As we've learnt throughout this series, new innovations are streamling all sorts of industries and radio is one sector that is very much ripe for change. We spoke to Virgin Radio Lebanon's Jenny Abou Jaoude to disover how the station has embraced the change and new technology is transforming this tradional medium...
What new technologies are currently changing the way Virgin Radio Lebanon operates?
Mobile technology and social media are changing the way every business operates. As a radio station, LDR (Listener Driven Radio) is our most advanced technology. LDR is an interactive playlist window for our website and application from which the audience can control the music by voting which songs they like to play more or less. With LDR, listeners also receive alerts when their favourite songs are about to play. LDR allows us to "listen to our listeners", which wasn’t easily available without it.
Which technology trends can we expect to see shaking up radio?
We cannot talk about a business anymore without checking its online presence. Radio, as an advertising medium is now coupled with social media. With Facebook’s analytics and Instagram engagements we can get to know our audience easily, from age to gender to the languages they speak, their location and their interests. This can help us create campaigns and offers through targeted advertising, which will provide a better return on investment be it from online, on air and even also live streaming.
Has new technology recently changed any major aspect of your business?
Think customer service, the delivering of key services and keeping things 'Virgin'. Combining on air, on ground and social media has significantly increased our clients reach. Virgin Radio was the first Radio to combine all three. By doing so, customers offered something their competitors were missing.
Was there a moment when a new piece of technology changed your business forever?
Virgin Radio was ranked number one page worldwide in the "people talking about it" category on Facebook with a following of 14 million. It is a very big milestone for a page coming out of a very small country. We built trust, loyalty and familiarity with people who originally didn’t even know what Lebanon is.
Have there been any new technologies that were supposed to transform the industry you worked in but fell flat?
Satellite Radio. As obstacles such as trees, buildings, tunnels still interrupt the broadcast leading to audience frustration, especially that there is a cost included.
How has technology altered the relationship between businesses and consumers?
The communication with consumers via social media has become much easier; you can post a picture, video or a tweet and the consumers will continue your advertising for you through peer to peer communication, consequently the ROI has become more quantifiable as you can see and study your followers’ behaviors from their likes, comments and tags.
Has your company pioneered any new technologies?
Virgin Radio Lebanon’s Facebook page was the first page to have more than 50 entertaining posts per day. When we first started, everyone was betting on how VRL is going to fail on Social Media as Facebook strategists would consider our approach as spamming. We created a new media, a comedy channel relevant to what was going on air. It was a risk which worked remarkably and we had 14 million genuine followers in only two years.
Furthermore, Virgin Radio Lebanon was the first radio station to communicate with its audience through Whatsapp. Before that, people would pay extra to text message to send their requests in or call and wait in line to participate in competitions also wasting time and money without a guarantee that their call would even go through. However, by using Whatsapp, we gave everyone an equal opportunity to communicate with us for free, sometimes even just to chat with our team.
Also, Virgin Radio Lebanon has introduced an application with the radio hosts as main characters. It engaged listeners and created an addition away for FM waves. It is a first collaboration of its kind between the radio and the customer. The app, Burger Attack, got the small Lebanese burger restaurant more than 300,000 downloads in one month!