Visual Radio

Digital radio stations are testing the transmission of pictures alongside the sound according to a recent BBC article. In fact this has been discussed for years. Nokia also has been working on ‘visual radio’ across the cellular networks and have indeed released the service.

The first thing that came to mind as I read the BBC article is.. well.. Television? The next thing that comes to mind is that watching a radio show has to be in the top five of the most boring things in the world alongside watching paint dry or having a drink with an accountant, a chemist, programmer and an estate agent.

Invest more time into this and you’ll soon realise that it is something that works.

First of all, what sort of visual content will a radio station feel compelled to broadcast? Whatever they choose one thing for sure is it’s another piece of real estate for advertising. A term used in the article is ‘glanceability’. This is very important and differentiates visual radio from television or video transmission, , broadcasting the video of a song with sound is not very innovative. Maybe track information, trivia about the artist, some advertising or even current news or traffic news in ticker form. whatever it is, the content must be glance-able.

Glanceability is 1-2 seconds of opportunity to get your message across to a potential audience. On a device that can receives digital radio (or in Nokia’s case FM radio and cellular picture synchronised), broadcasters must ensure that the device itself is visible. Let’s face it, with radio, the receiver is usually hidden, so with visual radio, broadcasters must ensure that the devices are visible. Mobile phones are certainly a target, except of course when driving or in use with a bluetooth ear-piece as many governments are now demanding, but in car entertainment systems certainly.

Right now there is a differentiation, but soon we will be watching content, content that we choose to watch anywhere anytime on any device and the glance-able content will be relevant advertisement.

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