HRADIO Pilot 2: the results are in!

In the second HRADIO pilot, two prototypes were tested: a mobile application and an in-car application. By developing prototypes, we were able to test a more mature hybrid radio experience with radio listeners. Therefore, we decided to merge the seven products of pilot 1 into two prototypes.  From May to July, testers from Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium provided feedback on these prototypes, which will now contribute to the development of three end products for pilot 3.

This blog post specifically reports on the general findings on how users experience hybrid radio. In the next two blog posts, dedicated feedback is provided on each of the prototypes. Understanding why, how and when users want to interact with hybrid radio is valuable input that helps us make important decisions in the design and development process. The results of this blog post is therefore beneficial to everyone working in the radio industry or in app development. 

Features pilot 2.png

Research questions asked

First of all, throughout the different countries we discovered that the role participants give to radio depends on certain categories. Following questions were asked to testers: 

On definition:

  • How do participants see the role of a hybrid radio application in their everyday life? 

  • How do the HRADIO prototypes meet the expectations users have of a future mobile radio app interface?

  • How does hybrid radio compare to other current applications and radio listening practices used by the participants?

On effectivity:

  • Would  participants  listen more to radio if they had an advanced hybrid radio application like this one? 

  • Can the HRADIO prototypes increase participants’ involvement with radio in general, or with a specific radio station?

On perceived added value:

  • What do users value in a hybrid radio application in everyday life?

Main insights

Listening mode

Firstly, we noticed that different listening modes exist: active, passive and in-between. A radio listener is not always in the same mood, does not always have the same time or is not always in the same place with the same people. Hybrid radio wants to respond to different contexts and therefore needs to consider the different listening modes that exist. The table below provides more insights on what these different types of listening modes are. After pilot 3, planned from December until February, we aim to have more insights on these listening modes.

  • Active listening mode:
    Participants have indicated that, when they are in active listening mode, they are highly involved in their (favourite) radio programmes. In this mode, participants refer to personalisation of the radio experience, timeshifting, content search and the availability of a library of programmes as features that would actively increase their engagement while listening.

  • Passive listening mode:
    In a passive listening mode, users have a lower variety in their radio usage. Participants indicate that they listen more to radio in the background. In this mode, there are basic requirements such as signal quality and the manual adaptation of audio. In addition, the ‘background’ passive radio experience could be extended if cross device listening is possible. For participants, the passive mode means they will shift to another channel if needed, but generally like the ‘surprise’ effect of radio and are not actively busy with searching for specific programmes, genres or songs. Still, whenever they do not like a song or programme, it is important that they can easily switch to other channels. They are therefore also open for recommendations.

  • In-between listening mode:
    This mode is referred to by participants as the mode used when listening to music via streaming applications such as Spotify. A hybrid radio app would fit this mode when easy integration with multiple applications is necessary. It aligns with the participants’ need to switch beyond radio, whenever feeling the need for different content.

Context of use

Secondly, we saw that the context of use determines how testers interact with the devices. Evidently, a car and a mobile application represent a different context and therefore also a different context of use.  Take for instance the example of voice control. During the car test this was mentioned as a must by multiple participants due to safety reasons. In a mobile context, voice control was not mentioned, but there we see that multiple device integration is key. To be able to switch at any time or location to different formats pc, laptop, tv, audio speaker with the same unique user profile is a huge added value for a mobile user. Further insights on the different contexts of use and the effect of this are illustrated in the table below. 

Context:

  • Mobile app: multiple contexts of use

  • Car app: automative context (safety is important)

Environment:

  • Mobile app: one user

  • Car app: multiple users, different types of car drivers (e.g. rental car, multiple cars, …)

Interaction:

  • Mobile app: mobile interaction

  • Car app: multiple interaction possibilities (e.g. display, steering wheel control buttons, voice control, …)

Device integration:

  • Mobile app: multiple device integration (pc, laptop, tv, audio speaker, …)

  • Car app: two-way device integration (mobile phone)

Listening habits

Thirdly, the role of a hybrid radio application depends on what the listener already listens to or uses today. We discovered that this is partly linked to the type of listening mode and partly to current habits. Some participants are used to using multiple applications for radio, music, podcasts, others are more loyal to one dedicated application. Furthermore, engagement with radio depends on the current level of engagement of participants. Interest in a Twitter feed or replying to a poll when listening to radio depends on two factors. There’s the current level of interaction with radio (e.g. via SMS or social media) and the current level of interaction on social media and chat environments (e.g. Twitter, blogs, ...). 

Grasping the attention of radio listeners in this digital era, a major challenge for broadcasters, is not straightforward. For some, a hybrid radio application can replace current applications, others see it more as an extension of current habits. However, a number of factors are identified that can positively impact listening behaviour

In general, we see that hybrid radio offers value for all participants on three levels. 

  1. On-demand content

  2. Cross-device listening;

  3. And technical improvements in signal and audio quality

General learnings

-       The importance of on-demand content was already an important finding of pilot 1. Especially, the combination of on-demand and live listening is well-perceived and additional information on songs, artists and radio programmes is perceived to be very informative and helpful. 

-       In pilot 1, signal quality was technically tested. Now, in pilot 2, users also addressed the importance of signal quality by indicating it can increase their radio listening time. 

-       Finally, a new and very important finding for pilot 3, is cross-device listening. Listening to radio 'on-the-go’, besides in the car, is still limited. Popular music streaming applications such as Spotify are used in transit and on the train, instead of radio applications. If there would be an easy shift between devices when listening to radio regardless of the context of the user, being in or outside the car, in house or outside, together with an improvement in audio and signal quality, the frequency that users listen to radio could be increased.