Digital radio

We can identify two types of digital radio - digital radio and web radio. Both are interactive. Digital radio is also available through interactive TV, mobile and in-car.

Digital radio requires buying a new digital radio although it can be streamed just like a 'traditional analogue web radio'. Digital radio is often accompanied by a big liquid crystal 4" X 5" display and is transactional 2-way. Digital radio is now widely known as digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio.

Web radio or Internet radio is when existing broadcasts are streamed via the Internet and listened to using plug-ins such as Real Media or Windows Media Player. This is an important trend, with radio-listener auditing service Rajar reporting that in 2004 nearly 20% of adults had listened to radio on the web. 'Streamies' are people who listen to web radio at home or at work. For many it means logging on to a web radio station and leaving it to play as you work. In fact, once you log on to a station it accompanies you wherever you go on the net - so you can carry on listening wherever you go online. And if you like a particular track or broadcast feature you can order it there and then. A variant of web radio is that provided by music downloading services such as iTunes and Napster. Here, listeners can define their own sequence of tracks to listen to, or listen to prepared selections of tracks - currently without presenters, so there are limited opportunities for advertising between tracks.

According to the World DAB Forum (www.worlddab.org), the trade association promoting DAB, the benefits of DAB for the consumer are:

Aside from distortion-free reception digital sound quality, DAB offers further advantages as it has been designed for the multimedia age. DAB can carry not only audio, but also text, pictures, data and even videos - all on your radio at home and on the move!

One of the limitations of DAB is that a 'return path' isn't available, so a direct response has to be achieved through other e-tools such as a web site or SMS.

Web radio can be used successfully for integrated campaigns. Listeners may first see an ad in the newspaper or on TV, register it, but not respond. When they then hear about it online, response is more seamless - they just type in the company or campaign code into their browser. For example, for Christmas 2004 eBay UK ran a treasure hunt to showcase the range of products on sale through clues on the home page which prompted a search. It was advertised both in print and on streaming radio stations.

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