Monday, November 26, 2007

Radio Websites -- Populating Pages with Approporiate Ads

Inspired by the uninspired website of our local radio station WJMA, I decided to help them (and many other stations) by offering up some practical ways to improve and monetize their site.

Last post I outlined how WJMA could generate a significant amount of unique content to attract visitors, and for very little money.

This time around, we'll look at how to make those pages and pages of compelling content pay.

A radio station is confined to a specific geographic area. The Internet is global. In the past, radio stations had to rely on local businesses for their revenue, with some money coming from national ad agencies. On the web, advertisers can come from anyplace. The trick is to match the right sponsor with the right traffic.

Local Advertisers
The time has passed when radio sales staffs can just do business as usual. WJMA's sales staff have some pretty highfalutin' titles, such as Senior Marketing Consultant and Senior Advertising Consultant (any junior MC's or AC's on staff?). Now's the time to live up to those titles.

The sales staff should actively encourage current clients to place banners online. Take Reynolds Pontiac GM of Orange, for example. I happen to know that their big supporters of the Orange community. So why not get their banner on the community calendar page or the local news page?

Placement on those pages re-enforces Reynolds' position in the Orange community. And of course, any click-throughs just mean more potential business for the car dealership.

Not every business thinks about promoting their website on other websites -- which is where the marketing consultant part comes in. The sales staff could offer a package deal of on-air spots plus web ads. Initially, the web ads could even be free just to show the value of website placement. It would also get the ball rolling, as it's easier to sell the concept of banner ads on a site if there's already ads on the site -- especially those of a competitor!

Internet Advertising
While local advertising in important, the web offers other possibilities as well. There are all kinds of affiliate programs one could join.

For CE Conversations, we've kept things simple and just used Google AdSense. There are other similar services that offer contextual ads. As content builds on a page, the ads become more focused on the subject of the page, which makes them more relevant (and, therefore, more appealing) to people visiting the page.

Our site has fairly modest traffic, which generates a proportionally modest amount of income. Potentially, WJMA's site should be enjoying a far greater number of visitors, and therefore, generate a significant amount of income. And if the service is free, and requires virtually no maintenance, how much income would it need to bring in to be considered profitable?

Another effective way to raise revenue is to join an affiliate program. I use one for the Gamut Playlist blog. Since the site is exclusively devoted to classical recordings, I joined Commission Junction to become an affiliate of It's worked very well. The revenue from the Gamut site is about twenty times that of CE Conversations (don't be too impressed -- no one's quit their day job yet).

WJMA could zoom in on specific products and services that match the interest of visitors to specific pages and populate the entire site with appropriate ads.

The only caveat is not to do too much. Too many ads diminish the effectiveness of the banners and clutter the site. Well-placed ads used sparingly, though, can be successful both for the client (the advertiser), and the host (the radio stations).

At this point, any radio marketing consultant worth their salt should be able to rattle off, at least, ten businesses or product brands that their station should feature on their website with affiliate ads.

So now let's assume that WJMA has a site chock full of interesting content and sponsors and/or banner ads on every page. The store's open, but where's all the people?

Stay tuned -- this is the easiest part yet if you're a broadcaster.

- Ralph

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