You can now get video streamed to your cell phone or mobile MP3 or video player and Microsoft has announced a software platform for interactive TV that runs on a set top box. I suspect it will be months rather than years when satellite radio starts beaming music video along with the tunes.
Where does this leave the traditional over-the-air radio broadcaster? With more options than you might think. Although we are raising children who are fixated (seemingly from the cradle) on any form of video from TV to DVDs, there will always be a place for talk, sports, and music to be heard in the background as you work on other things or simply close your eyes to the world. But radio cannot be complacent about convergence. Mostly because there is a great opportunity awaiting those who take advantage of digital delivery of sounds with video.
The number of video streams served over the Internet in 2004 rose to 14.2 billion, a 79 percent increase compared with 2003, according to AccuStream iMedia. The average streamed video lasts 2.5 minutes. Clearly broadband-delivered video has arrived and will continue to grow, and along with it streaming video advertising. Not only can the Internet deliver the "emotive" sight, sound, and motion that advertisers say they needed from TV, but also interactivity. So how can terrestrial radio get in the game?
The first step is to have a presence on the players that deliver online music. Unless you are using a paid service like Real's Rhapsody, you have to get to a radio station's Web site to receive their signal (say thank you to all those radio station guides that compile listings of free online radio.)
Instead of static photos or station logos why not take a page out of the WorldNow playbook and put video content on your site? Logic points to music videos, but people also sit and watch classical concerts and operas on TV, why not on your radio site? Rights should not be an issue since video producers seem more than happy to provide their product in exchange for assuring that it contains a link to purchase the video. Moreover, since most new music is introduced to consumers via radio, I expect this is also a revenue share opportunity for stations.
This gives you the opportunity to sell video advertising with the huge advantage over TV of being able to report nearly real-time viewing and interaction with the ads. Using the basic premise of behavioral targeting, you can watch the click rate on videos and pretty much deduce a good deal of information about the users. This in turn can lead to a more targeted pitch to advertisers who want to reach specific demographics. The pitch is now based on actual audience numbers rather than projected, an improvement over traditional radio selling. This should be a no-brainer for managers and owners to include videos while streaming music over the Internet. Lately, we have had several inquiries for video avails, but when we mention radio station Web sites or Internet radio sites - buyers pass immediately. But they will take a second look at sites that stream videos.
I hope the radio industry will see this as a better mouse trap - it's theirs to lose.
Adam Guild is the president of Interep Interactive.