Making the most of mobile

In the News Social & Digital

One of the most notable trends coming out of Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey this year is the continued growth of streaming. Over one-third of a radio station’s audience is receiving your product through your various streaming channels. And the way consumers watch television is similar. The pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 just served to accelerate this trend. That means that your stream is now almost as valuable as your broadcast, and in many ways, even more so.

The prominence of digital media consumption only increases as the listening audience gets younger. Fewer young consumers are tuning in, mostly because of the prominence of other sources of entertainment, be it Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, podcasts or other sources. The question is, how is a station going prevent that audience attrition, and do a better job of reaching that coveted younger audience?

Almost half the Techsurvey sample is consuming streaming media on a DAILY BASIS! Stations need to make sure that content is where they are. That means smart speakers, mobile apps, Roku, Apple TV – every possible outlet. For the past five years we’ve seen a slow, but steady transition to digital media consumption. And the younger the demographic, the more pronounced the trend is. If stations are going to compete over the next few years, they need to view digital efforts as more than just checking a box — stream, check. Mobile app, check. It’s just not something you can set and forget anymore.

Leading this trend are mobile apps. While the digital space grows steadily, the pre-eminent device is the smartphone, which is not really surprising as we use our phones for EVERYTHING. It is the most ubiquitous device in our lives. As of 2022, nearly half of all digital media consumption is now done on a mobile device.

This means that the opportunity for you to earn your spot on that all-important device is one that stations have to go after aggressively. While 40 percent of the audience has downloaded a radio station’s app, an almost equal share don’t even know it exists! That’s why it is so crucial that once you have an app that is worthy of it, you need to promote it heavily and consistently.

We know that your audience is using your app primarily to consume your streaming media product, but you can’t afford to stop there. The opportunity to bring your audience other great content, services and utilities is massive and probably as great a revenue opportunity as your stream.

As a provider of media content, your brands have an amazing opportunity to claim some of the windfall of advertising dollars going to mobile. The first step is to change your mind set about your mobile application: You need to think of it as more than an ancillary distribution channel for your content because it isn’t really ancillary anymore – it’s rapidly becoming primary. The second step it to look at how you can turn it into a profit center.

There are two avenues that we’ll explore here, because the more utility (and traffic) your app has, the more revenue stations will be able to monetize it.  They are:

  1. Focus on filling a void or owning a specific content or information area in your local market.
  2. Focus on a specific vertical content area that is a good fit for your brand.


One of the more obvious local verticals to look at is news (if you aren’t a news station, you can substitute news for local events). Many small markets are very challenged when it comes to the news environment, with few competitive outlets. If you have a newsroom, or can partner with a newspaper or local website, you can use your promotional powers to really become the local “news leader.” If you create a dedicated news app, you can promote it easily across all the local media outlets you control.

Mid-West Family Broadcasting in southwest Michigan created its own news app – Town Crier Wire. It covers a wide variety of local news topics, and have a couple of sponsors exclusive to the app. The app is promoted across their stations and through other local channels and has become a significant profit center for the company


Another great opportunity is to create local guides. If your company can create a feed of local businesses you can present them in your app (or a separate app), even putting them on a map, using the phone’s native geolocation capabilities. These guides can be for your advertisers, or in a specific content vertical. We’ve seen these guides in different areas like bar guides (for rock radio stations) or local Christian schools (for a religious broadcaster).

“Around the 715” a guide to local happenings and businesses in the LaCrosse/Eau Claire area created by Mid-West Family Broadcasting. The app has lots of content as well as numerous sponsorship opportunities. The whole app runs off the same content feeds as the ones that populate the companion website.

Another approach is to focus on a specific content area. By really putting a focus on an area that your station or market can own — like high school sports, the local business scene, or a unique ethnic group. You can create and distribute the kind of endemic content that attracts very high ad rates.

Think innovatively about the ways you can put the most popular and ubiquitous information delivery system ever invented – the smartphone – to work for your company. It is the kind of effort that can leverage your business’ strengths, while also diversifying your revenue and giving you new opportunities for growth.

We recently hosted a webinar on this topic that provides examples – to watch it go to

Written by jacapps COO Bob Kernen. jacapps is a partner company of Jacobs Media.

The WBA Digital Hotline is a free service of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.  For answers to your digital questions, contact Paul Jacobs at