How TV and radio should stay ahead in the digital age

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By Sara Al Sayegh, Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications, Dubai Media Incorporated

The media world has changed dramatically with the dawn of the digital age, which has brought the online sphere to join the traditional media matrix of television, radio and print, and widened the scope of marketing in this sector over the past decade. With the Internet bursting with watchable and interactive content – whether short, user-generated videos, programmes from digital TV channels, or movies from media-streaming services such as Netflix – TV and radio stations have never had to fight harder for exposure and viewers. The digital age of round-the-clock news, constant connectivity and social media proliferation presents marketing professionals with a simple, single choice: evolve.

Redressing the marketing mix

Traditional TV and radio station marketing involved on-air trailers, idents, on-screen logos and PR campaigns that targeted print publications, but this is no longer enough to keep pace with the world’s tech-savvy viewers. While these methods are still used and can serve to round out the communication mix, marketing TV and radio stations in the digital age is increasingly moving into the online sphere and on-demand content to heighten audience engagement across the board.

This can only be achieved if social media is fully embraced and also complemented with live events and interactive activities hosted through the channels’ own websites. Effective marketing campaigns should span all social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all the new relevant digital platforms – to reach the widest audience possible, raise awareness of the TV and radio channels’ unique offerings, and encourage viewers to engage with the brand.

The digital element previously supported traditional marketing methods, but, as media consumption habits have shifted towards digital screens, traditional marketing platforms have become of secondary importance. Marketers must redress the marketing mix to keep ahead of this transformation, which has significantly grown the marketing landscape – a challenge that requires lateral, multi-stream strategies, but has also opened up a whole host of new content distribution opportunities that are now crucial parts of the marketers’ tool kit.

Engaging audiences

While seriously upping competition among TV and radio channels, the Internet has also given marketers the chance to engage with audiences like never before, from en masse communication to one-to-one conversations with individual viewers.

Once you’ve reached the audience, there are three important questions to consider. What, how and why are you communicating with your audience? As audiences today are more tech-savvy and particular about what they want to view and be involved with, it is imperative to have a focus on interactive and purposeful content, rather than more traditional means of direct marketing. In fact, it’s not about killing all means of traditional communication, but rather, enhancing them by injecting your targeted content into the correct channel for the audience desired.

For the same reason, TV and radio channels have had to rethink their content to make sure their material is worth promoting in the first place. Marketing professionals now play a more significant role in developing programming schedules and enriching the content mix to hit on audience trends and support the channel’s overall image. The very concept of shows is changing, with a new focus on engaging programmes, such as night talk shows, reality shows and live TV or radio broadcasts that involve audience participation bothinside and outside of the studio.

There is also a growing need to cater to younger viewers with specially designed programmes that are accompanied by complementary social media activity – after all, the majority of us now watch our TV screens at the same time as our phone screens. To capture multi-screen users, TV and radio platforms interact with viewers in real time using social media channels, bringing a new level of audience participation to on-air coverage. Needless to say, appointment-TV is on the way to extinction and on-demand viewership is becoming a must-have in the new broadcasting era.

Technological transformation

It is not just keeping pace with online digital transformation that requires attention – TV and radio channels must also stay ahead of the curve when it comes to broadcasting technology. To keep audiences tuning in regularly, media companies must provide a crystal-clear picture with High Definition (HD) technology and other advanced equipment, including ‘Super Ultra Motion’ cameras, Cineflex motion cameras and a myriad of other advanced motion and stabilisation technologies that are particularly important for shooting sporting and entertainment events.

Virtual reality (VR) and 360 viewing experiences aresome examples of the technologies that are expected to see more growth in the media world, not only as a revolutionary way to broadcast content, but also as a marketing tool that has huge potential in the digital age. VR and 360 technologies aim to immerse viewers in extra-dimensional, real-time entertainment experiences, generating highly shareable content and providing a richer perspective on major or live events. It will be quite a few years before VR becomes a staple feature of every household entertainment system, but, before then, it can have a major marketing impact.

Another example that is worth mentioning in relation to radios is the DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) technology that is up and coming in the market. It allows more radio frequencies to be used without the worry of interferences and weak signals.

Digital age natives

As the digital age continues to gain momentum, it is important to remind all stakeholders that TV and radio are still king, but they are going through a phase of evolution. To successfully market TV and radio channels in the digital age, marketers must embrace change, be excited about the growing scope of their work and proactively set out to harness the power of new channels and platforms.

By redressing the marketing mix, heightening audience engagement with relevant content and mastering the latest technologies, marketers can become digital age natives and protect and enrich both their TV and radio channels’profiles and their market share, in line with the times.

The article appeared in the Sep 2017 issue of GMR.