Nova iPhone app is another signal of radio stations’ digital ambitions

Press releases always seem to arrive in waves. These days, one of the most regular is the launch of a media brand’s new iPhone app.  

They’re getting so common that they stand about as much chance of being written about as an announcement of a company’s anniversary. (The phone conversation where I explain that there are a lot of companies in media and marketing , and every day of the week several of them will have a birthday of some description, takes place with far more regularity than you’d think.)

DMG_Radio_iPhone_app mumbrellaSo I was about to delete today’s email announcing Nova’s new app.

But then I realised I was missing something that was so obvious I should have thought more about it months ago.

The future growth of all the radio owners actually lies in their online audience. And I don’t mean online listeners.

And they’re already going at it hard.

Take Nielsen Market Intelligence’s assessment of music and radio UBs for April. Of the top five, four are from the radio world:

  1. MySpace – 115,741
  2. Today Network – 37,446
  3. Take 40 – 19,556
  4. Nova FM – 14,552
  5. Triple M network – 13,414

Putting MySpace to one side, there’s are some big numbers when it comes to the monthly page impressions these sites produce.

The Today network clocks up an astonishing (and indeed slightly hard to believe) 33m page impressions a month, which by my calculation means about 30 PIs per visit (autorefresh much, Austereo?). Ditto sister network Triple M which pulled in nearly 5m PIs on an average of 10 PI’s per visitor session.

But regardless of potential PI inflation, the point is that these sites are increasingly becoming entertainment brands rather than radio brands, and they’re probably getting to the sorts of audiences that advertisers like to reach.

Which brings me back to Nova’s new app. It’s an events application – as the press release claims:

“The Nova Events application will fast become the one-stop destination for all the information on the latest concerts, comedy tours and music festivals in Australia.

“With a simple swipe, users can browse all the events coming up in their hometown and click through to an event detail screen which provides all the necessary details from start times and ticketing price details through to a map pinpointing the venue location. You can even buy tickets directly from your phone.”

(That last bit about ticket sales  is interesting too – I bet there’s a nice little business model in that.)

And take a look at Nova’s home page. There’s video content, there’s entertainment news, there’s music. But the radio element is dramatically downplayed. And very little of that home page content has been generated as a result of what’s been broadcast on air.

Rather than being the home page to find out about the radio station, as it would have been a year or two ago, it’s the place to find out about the things that would interest you as a consumer if you had the sorts of interests that would also make you listen to the radio station. And that’s quite a big change.

It also puts Lachlan Murdoch’s purchase of 50% of DMG Radio into perspective. He’s not so much bought a stake in a sunset industry, as an entree into an entertainment brand that’s going to be powerful online, and increasingly so as online video grows.

It just so happens that the radio offers an excellent means to drive users to the website.

It’s only just beginning to happen in a serious way, but I reckon it’s going to be a serious trend.

Tim Burrowes


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