Tag Archives: Inside Radio

It’s Like Mowing the Yard When the House is On Fire

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Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a problem. Our business model is broken.

Trying to make your daily, weekly or monthly budget while ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room is akin to the title of this article.

The Big Disconnect in Local Media

Nancy Lane is the president of the Local Media Association. Her latest article on LinkedIN really caught my attention. Like the fact that only 1% of publishers/station managers/GMs agree that their sales reps do a good job when it comes to selling digital. Why do you think that might be?

Gordon Borrell Knows

LMA research notes that most traditional media sellers have too many things to sell, making it hard for them to be consultative.

I’ve been hearing Gordon Borrell tell broadcasters exactly what they need to do to grow their slice of the ad pie for a couple of years now. At seminars I’ve attended, Gordon always adds that the companies doing the best job of growing their digital sales, employ sales people dedicated to only selling digital. It’s probably why this month Gordon Borrell was quoted as saying, “The pool of dollars is stunningly large, and radio often doesn’t get more than a ladle dip in the shallow end.”

Finding Good Sales People

If you’re a sales manager, director of sales or GM, the best way for you to find good sales people would be if your current staff would recommend working for your broadcast station, right?

Well, Nancy’s LMA found in their research that current media employees recommending others to work at their company came in at a 3. To put that number in perspective, the company that does this kind of research for all industries, found historically with all of their clients, that an average score for employees recommending their company as a good place to work was 36. In fact, the company hired to do the research by LMA had never seen a score of 3 before. It was the lowest they’ve ever seen in the history of their research.

That news alone should be a BIG wake-up call to everyone in media, since talent recruitment/retention was cited as the #1 challenge.

Digital is a Marathon, NOT a Sprint

A couple of the hard realities of digital is that it will take a long-term commitment and there still isn’t an overall business model to effectively monetize the audience being attracted.

Another hard reality is that the time to see a return on a company’s digital investment is longer than many CEOs want to hear about, plus the digital margins won’t look anything like the fat margins enjoyed by legacy media companies of the past.

Just One Example

To try and put all of this into a little more in perspective, let me share some of the cold hard facts shared in an article titled “Thinking of Starting a Podcast, DON’T.”

Jordon Harbinger writes “We are in the golden age of podcasting.” So why when asked if everyone should be starting a podcast does he give this super complicated advice: “DON’T.”

Here’s why, Harbinger has been hosting a podcast since 2006 (The Art of Charm) and candidly admits that if he had to start all over again today, he’s not sure he would. “It’s never been easy and it’s not easily profitable,” says Harbinger.

Today, Harbinger says his podcast is grossing about $480k/year, but in the beginning, he was spending around $10k/month with no promise of an immediate return on that investment. In fact, he suspects if you were to add it all up, they’d be just barely in the black after six years.

The Problem is Us

Bob Hoffman, aka The Ad Contrarian, says that technology has impacted all aspects of the advertising business. Before technology, ad folks were flying by the seat of their pants and their gut. However, Bob says now that we have technology, he’s not convinced we still have any better reality of what works and what doesn’t.

Hoffman sums it up this way, “In my mind, advertising technology has lost its credibility for two reasons. First, we haven’t acknowledged the unanticipated consequences of what has ensued. Second, we have refused to act honestly and correct the errors of our expectations. Instead we have created an ongoing crisis of credibility with a constant stream of half-truths, lame excuses, and public scandals.”

If digital is our future, we have to fix this big disconnect.

Going Deeper

The Local Media Association has offered their research report for FREE and you can download a copy by following this link HERE

As LMA President, Nancy Lane puts it, “One thing is clear, the disconnect is hurting the industry’s ability to move the needle when it comes to growing digital. Politics, defensive postures, silos and more still exist. That needs to end tomorrow and only strong leadership will change that.”

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History’s Technology Rhyme

Transistor Radio, Car Radio and Rock & Roll

Transistor Radio, Cars & Rock ‘n Roll

I’ve written before how history never repeats itself, but usually rhymes. So when I was reading an article in the NY Times about “Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future” it hit me. Here was how history was rhyming when it came to communications. Fasten your seat-belt, this will get bumpy.

What this article’s author Farhad Manjoo wrote was how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft (others include Netflix in this mix) came along at a perfect time to roll up their user base. They were in the right place, at the right time in other words.

Geoffrey G. Parker, a business professor at Tulane University has co-authored a book called “Platform Revolution” where he explains how these tech companies were able to ride the perfect wave of technology change – that being a decrease in the cost of IT, an increase in connectivity and the introduction/fast adoption of mobile phones.

And when it comes to advertising, these companies are in the right place to leverage digital marketing and enjoy most of the benefits of this growth area as well. In fact, since there is a sense that these major digital companies will receive most of the online advertising monies, traditional media – like radio & TV – could see advertising monies return to them.  Let’s hope that happens.

So, where’s the rhyme in this story? Well consider this other time in communications history when television burst onto the scene after the end of World War Two in the 1950s. Radio, a lot of people thought, would cease to exist. Radio’s stars, programs and advertisers, to a large measure, jumped into television. Radio had to find a new act.

Radio was in the right place, at the right time for the birth of three things when TV came along; the transistor radio and the car radio. Both of these technology advancements would be the savior of radio along with one other important development; rock ‘n roll.

Radio was in the perfect place to ride the baby boomer youth wave of rock music, cars and transistor radios. Television grew in large measure by scarcity, only two or three television networks and few TV stations.

When broadband came along, that scarcity factor went poof. Radio now sees its dominance in the car being challenged by a digital dashboard.

The newest radio format to have come into existence – all sports/talk – is now 29 years old. Clearly, innovation in the radio world has stalled.

The good news is radio in America has more reach than any other form of mass media. The bad news is it sees annual erosion of its TSL (time spent listening). This can be fixed. To do this, radio needs to address the very factors that are causing its TSL to erode.

The thing most often heard from consumers about what they dislike about radio are its commercials. Yet, commercials don’t have to be a tune-out factor. No one tunes out the Super Bowl when it’s a blowout because they want to see what other clever commercials might still be coming on their television.

Most radio stations long ago did away with their copywriters. These masters of the spoken word who can craft a story about businesses need to be enticed back into the radio business at every radio station.

The number of commercials in a break needs to be reassessed by the radio industry as well. You can’t kill the goose that lays your gold revenue egg and expect it to continue to lay you golden eggs.

Bring back personalities. They not only sell the music (the record companies need you!); they sell your station and through live reads, your advertisers’ products and services.

Those who remember Paul Harvey News & Commentary will tell you that page two (his first live read commercial) was always something you turned up the radio for. I remember reading Paul Harvey brought in more money for the ABC Radio Network than everything else they did. And everyone loved Paul Harvey’s commercials and bought the products he talked about.

I think retired CBS Radio President Dan Mason said it best when he said this about radio:

“Without community and companionship, we have nothing.”

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