About a year ago, Jayson Rogers, a second-generation operator of McDonald’s fast-food restaurants, found out about Creadio, a service that streams live, customized radio and television programming along with social media messages. He realized he could better capitalize on customer relations by adding this new dimension to his operation.
“I’m definitely more connected with my customers. We have an interactive relationship where they can tune in to the radio stations that I have and they can hear my voice on the radio,” says the Cleveland-based Rogers, who is among a group of McDonald’s operators who are testing Creadio nationwide. “It kind of gives [the store environment] more of a community focus. At any point during the live stream Rogers can call Creadio’s studio and request a song for a customer that immediately gets cued for the next play. This makes the customers’ experience that much more personalized.
Will Lucas, a former disc jockey in Toledo, Ohio, and Detroit, was inspired to start Creadio while shopping in a store that played traditional broadcast radio. During a commercial break, the station played an advertisement for one of the store’s competitors. “I thought, ‘They need their own radio station that just talks about them,’” says Lucas. For him, that meant tailoring everything from DJs to commercials in each separate store in order to “customize the consumer environment.”
Using streaming technology, Lucas delivers music over the Internet from the Creadio studio to store locations. Aside from a speaker system, end users need only a $200 Exstreamer, a device that plugs directly into a modem or router, to broadcast content over their Internet connection. Creadio configures the hardware before it’s shipped. The company requires a minimum download speed of 150 Kbps, but prefers clients to have 500KB to 1 MB for buffering or to allow for other uses of the bandwidth.
Creadio, which grossed $95,000 in revenues last year and projects an increase to $140,000 in 2011, has set up several different radio stations, including Hispanic, R&B, jazz, country, classical, soft rock, top 40, and a customized network for The Andersons, a general store chain in Ohio. Creadio’s monthly fees range from $34 to $114 for radio (Lucas pays $9 to $11 a month per store for royalties), and $45 to $175 for TV, depending on the scalability. The company’s TV software delivers the same features as its radio software, along with the ability to display live social media messaging to and from customers in the store. “We give you a real TV station where all the content is the same news, sports, and weather, but it’s all branded with the company’s logo,” says Lucas.
Despite established competitors like DMX and Muzak, Lucas is confident that his service is top tier. “I wanted something that could be a live, real-time, instantaneous changeable feed.” Creadio can change the dynamic of a customer’s experience on the spot, which keeps the environment fresh and streaming for current and new consumers.