February 20, 2015
Ahead of Rethink Media next month, we spoke to radio futurologist James Cridland for his thoughts on what the priorities for digital organisations should be and where we might be in few years’ time.
What do you think the current priorities for digital media organisations should be?
Do you have a view on where we might be in ten years’ time? Will the digital media landscape be more unrecognisable than it is today?
Of course, ten years is a long time to guess. But my hunch would be that it will be more recognisable than you’d think. We will still be listening to the radio, watching the television, and – yes – even reading newspapers. Media is partially habit-driven, and it will take more than ten years to get all our habits entirely rewired.
I think that audiences will be more literate, though. I think they will understand media techniques more, and be more sceptical of the media. I think that the old guard of media titles will lose their gravitas and their presumed superiority. I think we will see less change in the “media” and more change in the consumers of it.
I think we will see the rise of personalisation – we’ve seen it with some of the easier things, like music (in the form of Pandora and other jukeboxes), and beginning to see it for other types of media (like NPR One, a kind of personalised mix of BBC Radio 4 + local radio). The new BBC app is using rudimentary personalisation and tagging as part of this shift. Much of this comes to content makers giving adequate cues to the algorithms that make personalisation possible. In many cases we are still some distance away from good personalised experiences.
We’ve seen recent news on digital radio growing in popularity but not at the rate it was once forecast. What should radio organisations be prioritising or doing differently?
All the radio industry overestimated the radio audience’s need for change, and underestimated the inertia that keeps radio as one of the most enduring media types in the UK. The intimacy of radio means it is incredibly powerful and part of our daily habits; yet this intimacy also means radios live in the part of our house that our friends never go – our bedrooms, our bathrooms, our kitchen. There is no flat-screen fashion imperative to upgrade that crappy 1980s radio. And there is no compelling reason for listeners to upgrade their radio sets if they listen to Radio 2 or Radio 4. We only listen to 2 or 3 stations a week in total, and most radio sets never ever change channel. More compelling choice is important; but there is a question mark about whether “digital” is that important anyway.
A good fun thing is to ask people by a show of hands – after FM, what is the next most popular… DAB, through the TV, or the internet? Every hand will go up for the internet. It is only actually a quarter as popular as DAB.
February 23, 2015 8:48 pm Reply
Thank you, Sir. Spot on. I’d like to restate that radio is everywhere, wireless and free. It’s an old channel that stands the test of time and connects to all new media!!
Digital is a great new quality of delivery. Never forget it’s all about content, presentation and ease of delivery. When have many new ways to receive but seem to be lacking great product to hear.
Be great. Be current. Play favorites. Embrace the Boomers because they have the money and the predisposed love of radio. If it’s done well, the audience and advertisers will find and demand it. Best to all, Clark (official Yankee Boomer Broadcaster.) http://www.broadcastideas.com
March 5, 2015 3:55 pm Reply
Shame Mr Cridland doesn’t have any ideas of his own. Serendipity and Personalisation? Content for Snapchat and Vine? He’ll be suggesting email newsletters next.
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