How Location-Based Services Are Reinventing Radio

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While much of the location-based marketing discussion has been centered on mobile couponing and retail applications, there is a much wider implication for traditional media that should be considered.

One area that is just emerging in this is radio. Last fall the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC), co-sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), released a Request for Proposals on location-based services technologies for terrestrial radio data broadcasting that could form the basis for future NRSC standards and/or guidelines. The goal of the NRSC is to identify new and innovative services using geo-location data that will benefit broadcasters and radio listeners alike.

“Local radio offers an ideal platform for the delivery of location-based services. This investigation by the NRSC will help to identify new opportunities for broadcasters to serve their communities and potential new sources of data broadcasting revenue,” said Kevin Gage, executive vice president and chief technology officer of NAB.

Digital radio technologies, specifically HD Radio in-band/on-channel digital radio, and the FM subcarrier-based Radio Data System (RDS), are already being used to disseminate traffic information, which is one type of location-based service.

Screenreach Interactive, based in the UK is one company that has been working to meet this need.  The company’s Screach technology is compatible with most smartphones, including iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Screach allows two-way interactions between a smart device and any content from other platforms such as digital screens, broadcast media, print, or simply within the app itself.

Screach was recently embedded in a series of apps through a partnership with Bauer Media, which aims to create “next generation radio applications delivering location-based, interactive services.”

Bauer Media’s radio apps have been downloaded more than one million times in the past year, reaching many people each week via its 42 radio stations. Now, it will use the Screach SDK to integrate the technology into its apps. This, in effect, will let Bauer create real-time, location-based content delivered to consumers while they are listening to radio via their smartphones.

Coming at it from a slightly different perspective is Pandora Radio. Because Pandora sign-ups collect zip codes, marketers can use geo-targeting to reach specific demographics through the system. The system enables advertisers to target users by age, music genre, and geography.

In one effort to target consumers, last year, Pandora planned a concert at the Largo in Los Angeles featuring Aimee Mann. To find concertgoers, Pandora sent messages to Pandora listeners who had given a “thumbs-up” — the site’s version of “liking” — to one of Mann’s songs and lived within driving distance of the venue.

At a recent event, Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and CSO, said: “You can put together really interesting events that you really couldn’t before.” He suggested that entire tours could potentially be planned based on fans and distance from venues.

Radio has reached a turning point, Westergren said. “At the core of that transformation is personalization. We’re migrating from a signal that’s broadcast to unicast, where people can create their own stations.” Unicast radio will ultimately replace broadcast radio because it “knows you,” he added. Pandora has been working with many brands to place location-based ads in stream for app users.  Home Depot, Norstrom and JC Penney are just a few of the early advertisers working with them.

It seems that as location-based marketing evolves, marketers are beginning to understand that it’s not just a mobile medium, but in fact a data point that cannot be ignored.  The ability to segment and target consumers based on location and location history will prove to be invaluable regardless of the medium.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.


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