March 10th, 2010 → 3:14 pm @ Josh Andrews
The latest version of the Public Radio Player will introduce advertising within the app for the first time. We wanted to take a moment and provide you some details about the ads and where the money will go.
First of all, we believe that the Player should remain a free download. But, like public radio itself, an app needs funds to continue to operate. The Public Radio Player project has had two rounds of funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Grant funding has been a great catalyst for this project, but it can’t sustain the app over the longer term. So CPB has explicitly asked us to explore ways to make the app financially self-sustaining.
To that end, national ads will soon appear on the top-level pages of the Public Radio Player. Any revenue from those ads will support further development and maintenance of the app. Like the underwriting credits you hear during a radio program, our goal is to display ads in manner that does not interfere with your enjoyment of the content. Ads on the Public Radio Player will appear as small horizontal banners near the bottom of the page and will disappear after 4 or 5 seconds. At the top of this post, you can see what these ads will look like.
In addition, we will be rolling out a service for local stations who want to sell ads to appear on their own pages in the Player. Revenue raised by ads on station pages will directly support that local station. We’re currently beta testing local ads with WBUR in Boston. (On a related note, PRX is also working with WBUR to build an iPhone app for the station. WBUR is seeking input and ideas for the app from its audience during the planning stages.)
We are also exploring ways to enable users to donate to stations directly through the app. However, this is a complex issue due to Apple’s restrictive policies on donations and stations’ own local systems for processing donations from listeners.
The popularity of the Public Radio Player (and other public radio apps) shows that mobile platforms present a significant growth opportunity for public media. It will be necessary to experiment and identify appropriate revenue models to support mobile efforts and keep all the live streams and on-demand programs available to users of mobile apps. We welcome your thoughts on the subject.