The quick way to a consumer’s heart, more and more these days, is through their smartphone. The best route to get there is, unquestionably, through apps: Consumers spend up to 80% of their mobile usage time in apps, according to eMarketer. That’s why radio stations need to give users/listeners compelling reasons to download and visit again and again.
The mobile app category is shifting and growing fast, with radio broadcasters working overtime to attract users and serve up enticing features, from original video to dynamic advertising options. Since the bulk of that 80% of time is spent in only a handful of apps, standing out becomes paramount.
“Mobile provides so many engagement opportunities, and as radio moves into podcasting, video and social media, a full-featured app can really pull that all together,” says consultant Paul Jacobs, VP/GM for Jacobs Media. Many radio station apps are bursting with features, including streaming audio, local news and information, contests, podcasts, music information and content from popular DJs, such as blogs and video clips. But that’s where the industry consensus on apps ends. Just how radio station apps are designed—and even how they are organized—varies by groups.
At the top of the ecosystem is iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s massive radio aggregator app featuring live streams of its stations and other broadcasters, as well as original content, videos, podcasts and custom channels.
On a smaller scale, some radio groups have created their own aggregator apps, seeking to maximize their audience, cross-promote brands and give users and clients access to multiple properties. Aggregator apps work best for large and medium-sized groups with enough stations to populate a portal and give advertisers scale, Jacobs says. Those group-wide apps, which include Beasley Broadcasting’s iRadioNow, Scripps’ Radio League, Townsquare Media’s Radio Pup and SBS’ La Musica, are a gateway to dozens of local stations and original mobile content. The architecture of these apps is as varied as their music formats. On Radio League, users see all the group’s individual stations and can tag favorites. On Townsquare’s Radio Pup, consumers find stations by searching by market or format, and users can personalize news and weather. SBS is targeting a very specific demographic group with its LaMusica app, which launched last December. Aimed at Millennial Latinos, LaMusica allows users to access 23 million songs, build custom stations with English and Spanish songs, watch music videos and also stream local stations. The apps figure big into each company’s strategy—which will undoubtedly shift as the times and listening preferences evolve.