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Doing More with Datacasting
Expanding to social networks
Once a station has implemented datacasting tools to manage data for RDS, it only makes sense to look into other uses for this data. With the current popularity of sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it's easy to see the potential of social networking.
Most social networking services offer some sort of application programming interface (API). Several datacasting systems support these APIs. However, because these APIs are public, you can also build your own systems in-house. In addition, services such as Ping.fm and HelloTxt.com will give you access to a single API and, in turn, their service will feed most social networks. These services make it super easy (and free) for a station to push data to multiple social networks at once.
Avoiding the clutter
Once a station starts to implement one or more of these solutions, it quickly becomes apparent that guidelines need to be followed to avoid clutter and keep the listener from feeling like they are being spammed.
Most importantly, a station needs to give each message adequate time to display. No matter how fast a station pumps out data, some displays will move data faster and some move data slowly. To accommodate all of these, a good rule of thumb is to allow a second for each character with a minimum of 30 seconds for each message, no matter how short it is.
Then there is advertising. If we flood our displays with too many ads, they quickly lose their effectiveness and turn listeners away. A good practice is to adopt two types of datacasting ads: high-impact and linked events. A high-impact ad is a message that runs repeatedly throughout the day. Think of a flower shop on Valentine's Day or a car dealer the day of the big sale. This type of ad should offer a good value to the listener and feel like it's promoting an event rather than trying to push merchandise. The second kind of ad is a linked event. This is advertising information that is linked to an audio commercial, such as a phone number, website URL or even a coupon code. Because it's linked to the audio, the listener views it more like additional information than another ad.
With the right tools and concepts, the applications for datacasting are limited only by the imagination. Any station can literally change the face of radio by introducing one or more these techniques when adopting a good datacasting strategy.
Roberts is the product manager for BE's The Radio Experience, Quincy, IL.
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