KZN-based community radio station Izwi LoMzansi is looking to close the revenue gap with commercial radio stations by offering advertisers additional value through their mobile app inventory.
“It has been crazy,” says Tamie Mbombo with a huge grin. “You guys have put us way ahead in a race our competitors didn’t even know was being run in the first place!”
Mbombo is the head of marketing and PR at Izwi LoMzansi, more commonly known as the voice of South Africa, a community radio station broadcasting from the bustling Durban Station Complex, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The fast-paced madness has been crazy good for Mr Mbombo, and it all centres around engagement with his 278,000 listeners, people who tune in from as far afield as Port Edward in the south and Empangeni in the north.
More specifically, in the case of this story, it relates to Izwi LoMzanzi’s direct engagement with over 20,000 of those listeners who have downloaded the station’s app on their smartphones.
For one thing, it means they are no longer reliant on the terrestrial radio signal to listen to their favourite radio station and they now have a whole new platform to interact directly with presenters and advertisers.
The app was developed on the Fabrik platform, a product of Durban-based technology company immedia that is at the forefront of digital innovation, revolutionising communication for broadcasters and community organisations.
The software platform, which has been licensed by African radio stations since 2016 and is now in use by nearly 300,000 people across the globe, boasts a host of unique features that reimagines revenue for the radio industry.
Jonathan Lumley, Fabrik’s head of clients, channels and markets, has been part of the team working with Mbombo on Izwi LoMzansi’s digital journey.
“Tamie has made some huge strides in upselling Izwi’s on-air clients onto the app – having already sold a large amount of inventory to cell phone companies and big retailers to monetise its audience.”
Lumley adds that Mbombo has led the digital charge with featured podcasts and integrated advertising campaigns. “The impact of ‘change agents’ that drive digital transformation from within a station is crucial. Tamie has embraced the possibilities of this new revenue stream by providing relevant app-based campaigns, which enhance the experience for Izwi listeners.”
Mbombo says that the app has made his job that much easier, dramatically improving the station’s listener data.
“When our listeners download the app, they put in their age and other relevant data, so we know specifically what they want. That is gold. Fabrik has helped us prepare for the future.”
While total privacy is consistently maintained between members who engage in public channels, individuals are given the option to share demographic information with the station – resulting in aggregated data that is then used to conceptualise campaigns that are ‘on the money’ for their advertisers.
Mbombo cites one of the recent app campaigns as an example. Called #PimpMyBiz, it involved entrepreneurs pitching their business idea to listeners in a voice note. In total, 45,000 votes were received for the entrepreneurs that audience members rated as most likely to succeed.
Calls-to-action alerted app members to the competition, and voters could send a hashtagged voice-note to the Izwi Studio.
The five finalists in the competition won training and a suite of products and assistance to bootstrap their businesses.
“This is the sort of engagement that is meaningful to our listeners and it helps advertisers direct their spend very specifically. Fabrik has brought us to the front of the starting line, in a race many are unaware is even being run.”