Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

I spend a lot of my time inside of stations, meeting with sales teams, management, and even clients. One of the most frequent things I hear from broadcasters is denial that digital is a big thing – it’s a passing fad, broadcasting is free, and data plans are too expensive, and there’s not enough revenue in digital to make it worth the investment.

As a broadcaster who is deeply invested in digital, let me try to sort through the myths and realities based on two simple graphs:

Recently Nielsen issued their Total Audience Report. In the graph above, the following is clear:

  1. The amount of minutes spent watching live or time-shifted television is down slightly across all demographics, but in all demos except Millennials, television still is the dominant medium.
  2. Time spent with radio is also down, but not as much.
  3. Time spent with apps on smartphones and tablets is exploding across all demos and has grown by 40 minutes/day in the past year.

This doesn’t look like a fad to me. But this also doesn’t need to be a negative story for radio or television broadcasters. Just because someone is spending a lot of time on their iPhone doesn’t mean they can’t consume your content unless you’ve decided not to invest in apps and provide a solid user experience. It can no longer matter to you or to your advertisers how, where, or when people are consuming your content. If they are going to be using smartphones, let’s create a great experience on those platforms and start monetizing.

As everyone in this business knows, dollars chase audiences. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that digital revenue is exploding – including from local advertisers. I often hear broadcasters scoff that the data is just about national advertisers, but BIA Kelsey just released their 2019 projections on local market ad spend, and it’s clear the advertisers are following the audience:

The BIA Kelsey report indicates that while radio is taking 9.8 percent of local revenue (combination of OTA and online), and television is taking 12.5 percent, digital revenue (online/interactive, email, and mobile) is capturing 30.3 percent of local dollars. In other words, the money has followed the audience.

There is no doubt the times we are living in are more complex and challenging than a few decades ago. We’ve got competition with unique content (Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, Netflix, etc.) and multiple ways of accessing that content (smartphones, Roku, Alexa, etc.). However, the barrier to entry to get your content onto these platforms is low, and you have the secret sauce that these digital competitors don’t have once you invest in an app or an Alexa skill: The ability to move your audience to these new platforms at no cost, the skill to monetize them, local knowledge, and credibility with your local advertisers.

Think about it. When an advertiser has a problem at 4 p.m., who do they call at Google? Or Pandora? Or Facebook? 

Local broadcasters have an inherent digital advantage. It’s time to use it.

The WBA Digital Hotline is a free service of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.  If you have any questions related to digital, social, mobile or more, contact Paul Jacobs at paul@jacobsmedia.com

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