Alexa increased our online listening by 7 times… but she is a trojan horse | radioinfo

Alexa increased our online listening by 7 times… but she is a trojan horse

Sunday 15 July, 2018
Austrian CHR station KroneHit gained a seven fold increase in online listening when Alexa was introduced to the Austrian market, according to Programmer Rudiger Landgraf.

He tells Steve Ahern what he has learnt about smart speakers.

By default, Alexa usually pulls your radio stream from TuneIn, which is easy for the radio station, but could be disadvantageous in the long term. If stations really want more control of their own audio feeds on Alexa, they need to build a ‘skill’ of their own, so that Alexa will know how to find the station, he advises. KroneHIT is currently working on its own ‘skill.’

Another issue with Alexa and other smart speaker devices is that they do not provide very transparent statistics and stations cannot use those stats to sell their own advertising. Alexa is owned by Amazon.

“Amazon doesn’t allow you to target on Alexa… you don’t get the data to target advertisers on the platform,” said Landgraf.

An unexpected problem that has recently arisen relates to the new GDPR privacy rules in Europe. If you want to interact with a station through Alexa, you need to gain permission under the GDPR rules. “If Alexa started to read everything out it would take one hour…. not good!”  KroneHIT has overcome this problem by sending its listeners a Terms and Conditions text message and confirmation link. More details in the video below.

Taking its understanding of audience habits on smartphones and smart speakers one step further, KroneHit did research with a panel of listeners to find out just what they wanted from a radio app.

“The big thing we discovered when comparing pure play music services with radio was that people liked the fact that streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora don’t drop out too frequently, but radio services do… We wanted to come up with a technology that combined the best of both worlds.”

KroneHIT’s new app buffers at least 20 seconds of audio when it loads, so that if reception is lost, the signal will keep running until it returns. This buffering builds up further over time, providing the same pre-load reliability that streaming services have.

The KroneHIT app also has a controversial feature as far as many radio people are concerned - listeners can skip songs (but not advertisements).

From its research, the station conducted that the next most popular feature of music streaming apps was the ability to skip songs you don’t like. Listeners can swipe the song away and it will be replaced with another one. The system will buffer at the end of the original song in the live radio stream and then fade back to the announcer when the listener’s chosen song is finished.

“Usage figures are going up at about 15% each year,” according to Landgraf.

Ridiger Landgraf was in Kazakhstan for the Media2020 and Radio Asia Conferences.

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