The Business of Internet Radio

Occasionally I stumble over people who are vociferously in favour of Internet Radio as the future, to the detriment of all other radio platforms. I think this is somewhat platformist. From my point of view, a pair of ears is a pair of ears. I don’t mind whether they’re listening on DAB, FM, Internet or a piece of string.

Radio is multi-platform and that’s brilliant. Each platform has its pros and cons and it’s our job (as radio folk) to use the advantages of each of the platforms to help us grow our businesses and serve listeners better.

Internet Radio hasn’t seen as sustained growth in the UK as it has in other places around the world. I think this is probably a combination of the music rights situation, plus the strength of the brands (BBC and Commercial) on DAB and Digital TV – they often scratch people’s choice itch. In many markets if you don’t like what’s on analogue radio you have to use the internet, here that’s not the case.

However listening on the Internet provides many positives and with everyone toting an internet-connected mobile phone it means we can bring our stations closer to listeners when they’re on the move. At home, apps like Radioplayer for the iPad give great discovery tools where, wi-fi connected, listeners can discover and sample our new radio stations.

Up to now what Internet Radio in the UK has failed to deliver is a killer commercial product. The versatility of a two way connection, and the ability to geo and demo target has been around for a while, but there’s been little way to take advantage of it. Selling geo/demo-targeted inventory is actually harder than one-size-fits-all and whilst target demos might be very much more profitable, you’ve still got the other ones to fill too.

For me, the big shift is the introduction of Global Radio’s DAX platform, built on much of the great AdsWizz technology. This allows ‘publishers’ be that radio stations or music streaming services to pool their internet radio inventory and let Global’s (and AdsWizz around the world’s) sales teams to do the selling and for stations to concentrate on content.

The idea is that they combine this large inventory pool with access to ad teams around the world to get good rates for spots. Providing they can fill the inventory this provides a brilliant new opportunity for radio stations – suddenly more internet listening equals more money. Having this formula will encourage stations to innovate in the Internet Radio space and do fun new things with streaming.

These opportunities are part of a wider discussion of Internet Radio, something the guys from US website RAIN have been having for decades. As well as making a great news website, they’ve also been creating conferences talking about it – and now they’re coming to London.

They’ve created an event in London – RAIN Summit Europe – that has a great line-up of speakers and to me, is a perfect primer if you want to understand the opportunities for Internet Radio in the UK.

It’s £199 , with £25 off if you use the code FMRSE when registering.