Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Broadcast to save it from itself

OK, I admit I am ripping off Mark Ramsey yet again. But it's okay, since he is ripping off Bob Garfield of Advertising Age, the top pub covering the ad biz, and some truly chilling comments he recently made about the various advertising media. He actually uses the word "chaos!"

I like Mark's comments in response to Garfield's observations. He succinctly sums up what broadcasters in the radio game (applies to other media as well) need to do to change their way of thinking...and their way of doing business...before they fly this airplane right into terra firma (my thoughts in red):

1. If the supply of advertising avails online is infinite but the supply of advertising is not, then the only way to avoid having the cost of that advertising driven to zero is to create an environment that attracts advertisers because of its uniqueness. Unique brands, unique advertising concepts. The era of successful me-too brands and "this space available" advertising is over. (This should be made into a poster and hung on the walls of every station or group owner in America!)

2. Radio can move a lot of people to wherever they want to go. We will need to monetize their destinations, whether or not they are "our station's website." (You would be surprised how many people's idea of a station "web site" is pictures of the morning team and some streaming when they feel like it. Few know how to monetize it. I hear, "Yes, we'll throw in a banner ad on the web site...value added." Then they'll spout some useless junk about number of hits. Maybe, if they're really savvy, number of "unique" hits. But they get white around the mouth if I ask them to price response on a per-click basis. And they faint when I try to tell them their over-the-air inventory will eventually be priced based on the number of inquiries they send us. But it will. And soon.)

3. You need to be out of the "radio station" business and into the "local media company" business. Now is a time to recognize the roots of value for your company and to leverage that value. (Yes! Yes! Yes! Radio sales staffs for years have presented themselves as "marketing consultants," so long as whatever solutions they present to the advertiser includes a nice schedule on THEIR over-the-air radio station.)

4. We will need to recognize what makes our audience unique - one listener from the other - not simply what makes them alike. In the future, what makes each listener different is key to her value to advertisers and to your media company. How much each listener lets you know about them is critical to your ability to connect those listeners to marketers that interest them, and vice versa. (At risk of sounding like the guy who voices all those movie trailers: "In a time when advertisers can target potential customers right down to the individual...")

5. You need to embrace all manner of social media as an adjunct to the one thing no social media tool has in your absence: A loudspeaker with hundreds of thousands of willing consumers on the other end.

6. Our obsession with ratings and ratings methodologies is entirely misplaced, thus the importance of ratings per se will invariably decline. When I have lots of ways to reach thousands in my target audience - and most of those ways have precise metrics, not "ratings estimates" - then the number of ears you attract is less important than what you can do with them when you attract them. (I'm a "data guy" and understand the importance of some kind of metrics on which to base marketing, but I could not agree more with this point. Performance. Buyers on the showroom floor. Soda getting placed in shopping carts. My company at least getting Googled. That's what it is all about. Not #1 with left-handed midgets 18-49, 5-6AM, Monday through Wednesday.)

The radio industry needs to either grab a surfboard and take a ride on the tsunami or they will soon find out that they can't hold their breath for nearly as long as they thought.

Don Keith


Mark Ramsey said...

Thanks for the plug, Don!

Anonymous said...

Not really a plug, Mark. It's just that I agree with what you are saying.

Please, somebody, deliver us some aurally interesting programming that attracts a big enough audience of the right people so it has some value to somebody at a price that allows the company to make a profit.

Is that too much to ask? :-)