Have You Made The Top 30?

With seemingly infinite media choices facing the consumer wherever she goes – online, music streaming services, the “center stack,” and of course, radio stations – only so many brands break through.

This is becoming even more problematic as the options multiply.  Thinking about the challenge of the “connected car,” drivers set up their systems when they take delivery of their new vehicles.  You’d better hope that with all the excitement in the air, they’re thinking of your station, your morning show, and your brand at that moment of truth.

Now we’re finding out that apps on your smartphones pretty much work along the same lines.  While there’s a lot of electronic real estate on an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S5, the reality is that the average person only has 30 apps on their smartphones.

And 30 is on the generous side.  This new data by Nielsen that was put together by Staista shows that young people tend to have more apps and spend more time with them, the upper limit appears to be about 30.

It’s like lakefront property, right? There’s only so much out there. And while consumers may be self-limiting their app downloads, the bottom line is that you’re fighting a battle of space to stay vital on the smartphone desktop.

But the “lakefront” we’re talking about isn’t just pixels on a screen. It’s brain cells. We know from each of our own experiences that we only have room in our brains for a limited number of apps. To capture this most coveted real estate in our users consciousness, we need to do two things:

  1. Differentiate ourselves from the rest. It is crucial that we remind our audience every day (maybe even multiple times a day) why we’re important to them. Why we’re the brand they remember, rely on and even love.
  2. Create real purpose for our app. The more useful it is to the audience the more likely you’ll be front of mind when they’re looking for entertainment or information.

Now the good news is that “entertainment” is the second most popular category best on time spent per person (behind “search, portals, & social) – and it’s showing the strongest growth curve – +71% year to year.

But then think about all the basic apps that most people have on their phones – Pandora’s up there, along with Google, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Depending on the person and their interests, there’s just a few slots open for radio brands, whether you’re iHeart Radio on the one hand, or a station with your own brand on the other.

Yes, it comes down to having a great mobile app.  And what makes a great mobile app is one that provides utility. The apps that people use serve a function – connecting me to my friends, giving me the news, finding me a restaurant. But you say, “I’m a radio station, I’m entertainment. How am I useful?”  So this will require some out-of-the-box thinking. What information, or help can you provide your audience? The latest weather, ski conditions, entertainment options for the weekend, whatever.

The real essence of the app land grab is whether your brand is a standout, land whether it provides something for the consumer she can’t get anywhere else. As we’ve talked about before on this blog, does it fill a need or do a job that is desirable?

And then there’s the issue of promotion.  Because while thousands of stations have gone to the trouble and expense to design and buy their own app, too many forget to promote it.  Or they simply don’t feel that in the great scheme of things, their mobile app matters all that much, given all the other marketing priorities.

Somewhere, I hear Tim Westergren laughing.

Making the smartphone Top 30 ought to be a priority at every broadcast radio station in the U.S.  Like winning the push button wars back in the day, it’s now about that smartphone desktop.

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