Radio’s Real Problem

Hint: It’s not listeners or listening…

Radio is undervalued and consolidation has made that problem worse. How can we expect advertisers to value our time when our ownership doesn’t?

Check this out*…

Screen Shot 2012-05-30 at 6.26.25 PM

Only mobile does a worse job converting attention to revenue, and that seems poised to change soon.

Radio invests the bare minimum in the hiring, training and retention of those who sell our ads, and always has.

Radio spends the least on the creation and production of its ads, which could be an advantage if we cared about the results of our campaigns.

However, local spots are usually written by a sales person and voiced by untrained, unskilled, over-worked, glorified board operators.

To make an obvious problem worse, Radio then clusters 8-10 of these masterpieces into advertising mini-marathons two or three times every hour.

And, with a straight face, we tell clients PPM proves Radio doesn’t lose listening during these commercial endurance tests.

Let’s cut to the nuts…

Radio has too many signals in every market, each one willing to sell spots at a dollar a holler. There’s too much inventory on too many radio stations.

It’s that simple. It’s the unspoken truth in every radio station, as if by pretending this isn’t the problem, we can make it disappear.

As an industry, we cannot make more money by selling ever-more spots ever-more cheaply. We need to sell far fewer spots at far higher prices.

We need to cut inventory availability to about 8 units an hour, every hour. No more. Ever. Especially when you’re behind budget and aching for a few more bucks to ease the pressure from above.

Move away from cheap.

Move away from lowest-priced commodity, because the airlines have already proven that doesn’t work. It just means they all make less money from ever-more dissatisfied, disloyal consumers.

(You also need to stop pretending live spots in your traffic and weather aren’t part of the commercial load your listeners hear.)

You need to hire actual copy-writers, people trained to use words to persuade, and actual voice talents and a production whiz to produce spots people actually want to hear.

You need to sell results because when you do, you’ll be sold out, at the highest rates in your market, but that means hiring marketing specialists rather than out-of-work used car sales guys. Guess which costs more?

As an industry, we should be ashamed by that graph, but shame is in short supply in most radio companies today.



*The Atlantic, Derek Thompson, May 31. 2012