An excellent discussion of best practices for broadcasters to stream their programming has arisen out of Saga’s announcement that they would stop inserting different commercials online and instead stream entire simulcasts of their over the air stations. The main reason they offered for doing that was that ad insertion technology does not sound good on the air – sound levels vary, stop set timing is often poor, and the spots that are inserted are often filler content like psa’s.
And all of that is true – stations that simply try to plug in ad insertion technology and let a series of psa’s and commercials cover their over the air stopsets do sound pretty bad. Unfortunately for small stations without budgets and staff to dedicate to the production of a good sounding online station, it takes more effort than that to produce a good sounding station.
But there is a big risk with simulcasting an over the air signal online, one which could really start to affect the perceived value of the product. I’m talking a
bout the ads. You know, those over the air ads that encourage the listener to call right now, or drive right in. Those ads are misfits on an online station. Do you think anyone that is listening to a station online is going to call an advertiser? Of course not. Online listeners are online and every commercial should have an online call to action. Ignoring that and using over the air commercials is simply ignoring the technology.
Radio’s big opportunity in online radio lies specifically in its ability to target and track ads. To compete with other media that have similar abilities. Sure, it’s not plug and play — every advertiser needs an ad with an online call to action and an on screen clickable display banner or link. Even better — support those ads with an advertiser directory on your website where listeners can get more information, print coupons, register for offers. Integrate your online offerings to increase the benefits to your advertisers.
A decision to simulcast your over the air programming is as good as a decision to stop streaming if you ask me. In fact, I might even say that if that’s your approach you might as well shut it off. No reason you can’t change your mind down the road..