Radio Reboot: The Story-spot Dogmas
How the power of podcast has the potential to transform the sound of commercial radio.
“How many of you listen to commercial radio?“, zero hands go up in an agency meeting with 20 creatives.
Sometimes you need to change the narrative. The downfall and analogue decline of commercial radio, the rise of glamorous influencer campaigns and click-measurable data driven digital solutions are in reality just stories, that told or untold have been bouncing around inside the minds of the media agency urban savvy.
Reality is that the radio medium is far from broken. Its analogue decline is happening at a far slower pace than that of TV or print, and radio today is the most cost effective medium to use to reach the masses and in the center of a boom in audio consumption.
“How many of you listen to podcasts?”, full house.
It’s the narrative of commercial radio which is in need of a reboot.
A long hard look in the mirror
In Copenhagen, the creative team at Bauer Media Denmark and I, took a long step backwards, to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. We looked at the strengths and shortcommings of all of our products and commercial offerings. How do you measure the impact of an on air promotion? Why do traditional commercials work on air? What is the promise of podcasting for brands?
We envisioned an audio campaign model where content would be shareable, subject of broad conversation (the PR potential of podcast content is heavily underrated), and in which we would take advantage of the undisputed power of radio as a mass medium.
We now make branding campaigns with the podcast content at the center, but with brand storytelling on all platforms.
The 98 procent
Branded Podcast has a limited potential audience. This is a fact you have to embrace. Target groups are often narrow, and brands tend to focus on credibility and inspiration more than edge and entertainment and thus get smaller audiences.
We used to do normal radio spots for the podcasts we produced, like small trailers, 20 second segments, and put them on air to get people to download the podcast. After all that’s what you do when you have great content; invite people to listen. It seems to make sense, but it doesn’t.
At the end of the day, the brands we are working for are not doing this to get a specific number of downloads, but to tell stories that match their values to large audiences. And looking at “high” conversion rates of 2–3 percent made us think a lot more about the 98 percent that didn’t convert. How did the ad impact them. Why not cater more for them?
Name it, tame it
We started using the seconds of air-time we dispose over in a new way. We started using 60 second-ads as default. And we gave it a name: The STORYSPOT. You name it, you tame it — as they say in popular psychology. So we went in one step deeper and made a set of dogmas, that has changed the way we work. Here are the rules of the STORYSPOT:
- Don’t sell
- Real People only
- Real Stories only
- Don’t stop producing until you have emotion or reflection
In September we won 2 x PRIX RADIO for our work with REMA 1000. Last year we also won “best radio ad” with content from a podcast. We just hadn’t called it anything back then.
So is it all about a podcast? Yes, and no. It’s a story. It has characters, a host, a conflict, solutions, and emotions. With REMA 1000 we produced a podcast, and introduced the concept of the STORYSPOT. We have since then applied the same thinking to campaigns for LEGO Duplo and the Department of Prisons and Probations.
The STORYSPOT is based on the content of a podcast, but it tells its own story, and for the majority it’s all they hear of the campaign. The purpose is not to drive downloads or other call to action. The purpose is branding. What’s different is the mentality that goes into the making of the content.
To use real stories, you have to do real research, which leads you to the right people. In an effort to be great storytellers in podcasting on behalf of the brand, you need to keep trying to tell the story, not just to the point where it meets the brief, but to the point where the spot, the ad, the STORYSPOT, the podcast achieves the goal of creating emotions and reflections.
And when we put this work in front of millions, we leverage the power of radio as a storytelling medium.
So, please, come join the STORYSPOT movement. Take the essence of your branded podcast to the big stage. The airwaves: The radio.