Sector checker: Here's Johnny, and Capital FM really dances online

ValueClick's Carl White finds Capital FM's web offering may attract listeners to the Breakfast Show as Johnny Vaughan starts as presenter.

Web: www.capitalfm/breakfast

Developer: in-house/Skinkers

After the appalling Tommy Steel routines on the TV ads, you'd be forgiven for giving Johnny Vaughan's Capital FM programme a wide berth, but if you do listen in, you'll almost certainly want to check out the web site.

You'll find a pretty good example of a programme-associated site that uses several tricks of the trade to extend its relationship with listeners.

For starters, there's a neat desktop Johnny from Skinkers, who dances on request and has won plaudits as both a marketing tool and permission-based communication platform. It remains to be seen whether Capital exploits the full scope of it by targeting different demographic and behavioural groups with communications. But, for now, it's a daily message from Desktop Johnny.

Similarly, the Voice-A-Tron enables users to string together some of Johnny's best-known phrases - "yer 'avin' a laugh" and "will somebody get the phone?" are just asking to be played in the office.

Other fun aspects transferred from the radio show include Five Word Film, which asks users to summarise any film in just five words - I can see this really taking off, although some of the responses were a bit tame when I visited.

The web site does a good job of giving you more background information on the presenters, albeit of the PR department airbrushed variety, and you get a little more engaged in the programme. Similarly, there are plenty of opportunities to listen again to the best bits of the show. Studio webcam is an obligatory feature for any decent radio web site and, once again, this doesn't disappoint.

On the commercial side, the Google adwords banners looked a bit weird against the slick design of the site. The Kellogg's sponsorship was integrated well, but when one of the links has Johnny reading the ingredients of Kellogg's Corn Flakes in the style of a romantic novel, you have to wonder if there are any hoops that the Capital FM team won't make the poor guy jump through.

I was surprised that the site didn't look to gather more details from me in order to build ongoing communications. The Skinkers download could do this in time, but there's surely an opportunity for direct emails from the team with associated commercial opportunities.

Johnny Vaughan seems like a seismic shift from Chris Tarrant, but this well-designed and executed web site does a good job of supporting the output of the radio show, feeding the listener's desire for more information and helping to move Capital FM breakfast into the 21st century.

I don't like the guy's dancing, but if the web site is anything to go by, I wouldn't bet against Johnny winning audiences over.

And now for the rest ...

The award-winning daddy of the radio sector has got to be virgin, with its four audio channels: main output, Classic Tracks, The Groove and Liquid. There's more information on the station than you could ever wish for, as well as the obligatory details on the presenters and interviews with just about every member of staff. How's that for making your team the heroes?

Good editorial ideas include the 'Movie Mistakes' section where users can spot and share continuity blunders in recent movies. Commercial execution is excellent too. Registration as a Virgin VIP gets you access to exclusive session content and the newsletter. Sponsorships from Bailey's and Travelodge are well integrated - the latter's sponsorship of 'Rock Pilgrimages' is a neat editorial idea that carries a great commercial message. Seamless. has long been the home of decent content, which isn't surprising given the target audience of the station. With a lot of reviews, a good entertainment section and interesting video jukebox, this is another smart site from the folks at Capital. Of course, they have plenty of Ricky Gervais clips from his show with Stephen Merchant, which gives them an unfair advantage. Peerless. has an interesting feature that allows users to look at advance radio programme schedules across a swathe of BBC and non-BBC stations. This open access approach, which has characterised the print edition for years, works a treat online and I'm only surprised the online edition hasn't made more of itself commercially. Solid. not only offers users plenty of presenter information, but it also has tons of links to related partners. This makes the site a real gateway to knowledge and understanding of the classical sector.

Given the brief of the station to popularise the sector, this offering works a treat to support the overall brand. Classy. is a real let down. There was a time when Chrysalis was a real innovator in the digital sector, but if this web site is anything to go by, it seems to have lost interest. Tiny pictures of their DJs, a minuscule typeface and appalling design give the impression that Heart is trying to hide its proposition away when I thought it was looking to lead the way. Disappointing. seems to have switched off the frequency capping on its rich-media ads. Surrounded by ads all day long, I'm not easily annoyed, but this site managed it. A shame because there's plenty of useful information and I was thinking about buying some of its home-label CDs. Disappointing.

As the self-proclaimed number one commercial station in the UK, you would expect talk to be pretty cool. But, while the sports newsfeeds are bang up to date, the site itself is somewhat lacking in personality. There's plenty of schedule information, but the site seems to focus its attention on getting the audience to interact through email, which misses the point of the medium. is an exercise in blank space - in some cases literally. When I visited the web site, there were a number of empty squares where the photos to accompany DJ profiles were missing altogether. I've heard about some presenters only having a face for radio, but that's ridiculous.


Rank Web address Visits Bookmarks

(% relative market share) (%)

1 14.61 0.03

2 13.47 0.01

3 9.58 0.16

4 5.81 2.08

5 5.61 1.12

Rank Web address Pages Bookmarks

(% relative market share) (%)

1 14.38 0.01

2 11.02 0.16

3 9.19 0.03

4 6.01 0.18

5 5.65 1.12

Rank Web address Session time Bookmarks

(minutes) (%)

1 15.41 5.52

2 11.54 0.32

3 11.45 1.94

4 11.09 0.92

5 11.02 2.30

Source: Hitwise, April 2004.

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