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Media Intelligence : 2008 Intelligence
radio Radio – Dawn of the digital age JoanWarner, CEO, Commercial Radio Australia explains how digital technology is set to transform radio consumption. Digtial radio is scheduled to be launched in 2009. What is that going to mean for advertisers and consumers? First of all, it is going to mean much better sound with a much more robust signal – no more twiddling with the dial to fi nd a frequency and no more drop outs. It will also mean more channels and your favourite channels simulcast. Radio operators will also be able to off er sub genres or additional information channels. That is just the audio, but with the visual element there will be blocks of text that can contain the song playing, weather reports, news reports, topic now being discussed, phone numbers and so on. For advertisers, there could be pictures of products, like a new car being launched which you can see on the small screen, details of special offers on a subchannel that people can go to either on text or audio. There could be total channels dedicated to the latest off ers from Toyota for example, on a show that they are sponsoring. When we move to digital, it will add what we call glanceability. It’s not going to be people sitting in front of a small screen, but they will be able to glance down and see a phone number or the weather forecast. The other element is the pause and rewind function that will be available on most of the radios that come out. If you have missed the headlines or the weather, you can rewind up to about five minutes. Which international markets have had successfully adopted digital radio? The UK is the only one that has had great success, but a number of other countries have been sitting back and waiting to see how the technology develops because there have been up to four different competing digital technologies. We have gone for the European technology which has been recently upgraded and we can off er many more services within the same amount of spectrum. The interesting thing, is that we are in discussions with countries in the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, of which we are a member, about which of those countries will adopt the system. China going with the same system as us, means that there are going to be millions of low-cost radios available quite quickly. By the time we launch there will be a number of other countries using the same technology. What other innovations can we expect from radio in the coming year? Obviously the stations are doing a whole lot of stuff around podcasting and developing their online presence, and having more information and options online. We see online and radio as being pretty good partners. In fact probably out of all media, the best partner for online, because online is visual. We are really excited about digital because we think it will be a big surprise to listeners and advertisers. We are already talking to advertisers about the sorts of things they might be able to do, and some of them are getting quite excited. What do media buyer/planners need to know about radio? Radio audiences are growing and there are more people listening to radio than there were five years ago, including the youth demographic, so don’t believe that radio is on the way out. When we launch digital, we think that the youth demographics in particular will be grabbing it with both hands, because let’s not forget that it is free to air. Go and talk to and form partnerships with radio stations, because they can do great promotions. You see more and more now that there are advertisers forming close relationships with radio, because listeners really respond to it.