Making the most of a captive audience – lessons of LA traffic

You would have thought the commute through Los Angeles traffic is enough to bring most drivers to their knees, but observation would show you a plethora of commuters humming, singing, attentively listening and *enjoying* LA radio stations*.

This is the definition of ‘captive audience’ – a metal shell one must endure for 30-90 minutes every week day, with little to do but listen.

Captive can be far from captivating!

Captive can be far from captivating!

Whilst many people take advantage of a captive audience – talk radio soapbox, food stands at Disneyland, bar at the opera, teacher in class, loudmouth at cocktail party, popcorn at the movie – what most people tend to forget is that most captive audiences have a choice.

Choice allows people to change stations, bring their own food & drink, drop out of school or leave the room.

Choice liberates, empowers and mobilizes the consumer.

Choice means the provider of entertainment, information, consumables and / or education must understand the competitive nature of consumer capture.

Choice must drive providers to “broadcast” value, interest and relevance.

Imagine the typical scenario of a channel surfer flipping through TV channels, taking a couple of seconds to gauge their interest in a program or subject matter. A few times I’ve ended up watch Discovery Channel, Sci-Fi Channel or CNN programming just because something caught my eye on a ‘flip’.

Online, the exact same principles apply.

On arrival at your site, for a moment you have a captive audience.

Within a second or two, that audience has decided whether to stick around or move on.

Help them decide (in your favor)… provide immediate and obvious value, interest and relevance and they’ll stick around, recommend and return.

(*Note: this does not include those on their cell phones, typing on their Blackberries, playing “Bejeweled 2” on their iPhones or craning their necks to watch the video screen in the back seat)

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