Marketers find lucrative audience in 'Streamies'

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Online radio listeners and Webcast viewers are emerging as a highly interactive group of consumers more likely to click on banner ads and go to the Web because of mainstream advertising, according to a study released the week of Feb. 14.

Nicknamed Streamies in the joint Arbitron Internet Information Services and Edison Media Research study, these people are more than twice as likely as general online users to click on Web ads or buy from a site.

40% BOUGHT HOLIDAY GIFTS

The study, which surveyed 2,000 Arbitron radio diary keepers in January, found that 43% of Web users reported watching video or listening to audio online.

Forty percent of Streamies bought gifts online during the holidays compared to just 17% of all Web users and 12% of all Americans.

Bill Rose, VP-general manager for Arbitron Internet Information Services, said the study affirms radio executives' claims that the medium is an efficient way to drive people to the Web.

RADIO SECOND ONLY TO TV

Last summer, just 29% of online users reported visiting a Web site as a direct result of a radio advertisement. As of January--thanks in part to dot-com spending on radio ads--the figure had jumped to 45%.

Nearly 60% of those surveyed had visited the Web because of a TV commercial, and almost 40% had logged on because of a newspaper ad.

TV would be expected to lead in driving traffic, given the enormous money dot-coms have plowed into the medium; 57% of the $403 million spent by dot-coms in October went into TV, according to data from Competitive Media Reporting.

But the Arbitron survey suggests radio and newspaper could be more efficient traffic drivers; radio accounted for 14.4% of dot-com spending in October, while newspapers took 12% of the budget.

Almost half of the online users surveyed said they had clicked on Web ads, up from 34% last July, and 43% had made online purchases, spending an average of $650 online last year.

MARKET SIZE DOESN'T MATTER

Online spending and Internet usage was virtually identical across radio markets, from the top 10 metropolitan markets to the smaller radio markets.

For radio stations, the Net also provides a new source of revenue with streaming audio online.

In the past six months the number of Internet audio sites doubled, though the time spent listening remained stable.

Those who listen to online radio tend to listen to stations outside their home market, and 56% of online listeners report listening to Internet-only audio sources.

Mr. Rose attributes interest in out-of-area stations and Internet-only sites to a desire to find more unique content.

Americana music site Texas Rebel Radio, owned by KFAN, Fredericksburg, Texas, and the online arm of KPIG, Freedom, Calif., which plays alternative rock, were Nos. 1 and 2 in the first two monthly audience surveys by Arbitron, Mr. Rose said.

Even so, the online audiences are relatively small. In Arbitron's October InfoStream Report, Texas Rebel Radio had 83,900 listeners and KPIG online had 70,100.

"Stations have to work on the fringes of what consumers have available through traditional mediums," Mr. Rose said. "I think the answer is for traditional broadcasters in particular to promote what they have online, but focus certain flavors of their coverage."

LOADING EASE CRUCIAL

It is also important for online audio and video sites to make themselves more accessible. According to the study, almost 20% of users could not access audio and video sites.

"Radio stations need to get out there and have an icon that can be clicked on without worrying about browsers or connections," said Joe Lensky, exec VP at Edison Media Research. "That is what people want, and whoever ends up providing it--that easy way of accessing and connecting through the Internet--is going to have a big advantage."

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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