RAIN 10/16: How well your site works on mobile devices crucial to maintaining audience

Paul Maloney
October 16, 2012 - 1:20pm

NPR Digital Services says streaming via the mobile site has more than tripled for 20 of the "few dozen" stations using the new mobile web design.

NPR Digital Services is a division of NPR, and partners with member stations on digital initiatives. In August Digital Services made available its "mobile web theme" that includes a "prominent, persistent player for live streams," design for smaller screens, an inline audio player within stories, and more (read more here).

"Before this change, people visiting the station site from a mobile device saw the full desktop web site, which made the stream hard to find and often not even playable," NPR Digital Services explains in its blog. "Thus, during a representative week in mid-July, only 2.1% of visits to these stations' sites using a mobile device included streaming.

"But with the new interface, streaming increased to 8.6%, because we give the stream more prominence and provide an easy-to-use, persistent player that works on iPhone and Android. We expect this number to rise rapidly as more consumers turn to their mobile devices for listening on the go."

For stations using the new mobile theme, mobile listening to audio segments reportedly increased 81%, and mobile users are reading more stories.

Not surprisingly, radio's certainly not alone in reaping benefits of smart mobile design. Google commissioned a study this past summer of U.S. adult smartphone Internet users that showed "about two-thirds of respondents said they were more likely to purchase something from a mobile-optimized site, while three-quarters said they were more likely to make a return visit to the site," eMarketer reports.

And there's a price to pay for not making the mobile effort. "Failing to design sites for mobile had spillover effects, potentially damaging the reputation of the company," eMarketer wrote.

Back to NPR: "It's becoming clear that our mobile audience wants to listen. When we make the listening experience better on mobile devices, our users respond," they conclude. "If your web experience isn't optimized for your growing mobile audience, you're missing a key opportunity for audience growth and engagement. System-wide, 18% of visits to station sites are coming via mobile devices, and that number rises every month." On this note, eMarketer projects there will be 198.8 million U.S. mobile Internet users in 2016.

Read the NPR Digital Services blog post here. You can read the eMarketer story here.

Paul Maloney
October 16, 2012 - 1:20pm

If the ad-buying community could only witness radio's achievements when it comes to mobile, certainly they'd embrace the medium much more enthusiastically. If they could only see, and interact with, the great apps for smartphones and tablets, perhaps they'd see and hear the magic that makes the vast majority of Americans tune in to radio on a daily (or at least weekly) basis.

Well, of course they can access all of this, as can anyone with a smartphone or tablet. Yet only 42% of ad professionals listened to radio during a recent one-day study, while 80% of consumers did so. And Fred Jacobs thinks this disparity could be at the root of radio getting short-changed on ad campaign buys. And, he suggests being proactive in making these ad guys aware of what radio's doing on mobile platforms.

"If the (radio) industry sits back and assumes they (ad buyers) will figure it out on their own, shame on us," writes Jacobs.

In his blog, he suggests the NAB give every key ad industry professional a tablet pre-loaded "with the very best mobile apps from some of America’s best and most diverse stations, shows, and personalities." Jacobs suggests twenty such radio apps (including Pandora, iHeartRadio, and broadcaster apps produced by Jacobs Media division jacAPPS) that show "radio belongs on the hottest devices of our time, and that the industry is leaning forward when it comes to embracing mobile."

Read Jacobs' blog here.

Paul Maloney
October 16, 2012 - 1:20pm

Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises has let Owen Grover come over (tee hee) from iHeartRadio Network to serve as SVP of Content Partnerships.

Grover (a RAIN Summit veteran) was SVP of iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's Internet radio platform.

In his new role, he'll "further leverage the power of our brands and reach, create new entertainment experiences for consumers, and develop innovative programs and opportunities for our major advertisers and key partners," CCEE president John Sykes commented in a staff memo.