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Radio vs the False Gods of Advertising

Radio tragics that we are, Dave and I were discussing the non-growth of radio advertising over breakfast this morning.

It didn’t take long for us to once again come back to the same theme Peter Harvie (former chairman of the former Austereo Network) championed in his address to 2010 CRA Conference:  Networks should concentrate less on competing against each other – and compete against radio’s competitors.

SCA isn’t really going to succeed competing against ARN or Nova.

Talk won't really profit from competing against music.

Peter Harvie used to say radio should sell radio – grow radio’s whole share of the marketing pie – then Network content directors and sales reps could compete against each other for audience share and marketing dollars.

But the Industry didn't listen.

And now, there’s Pandora and Spotify and Google and Facebook.

But they’re not really stopping radio from increasing its share of the burgeoning increase in advertising dollars.

Radio is still fixated inwards.

We haven’t really thought about what marketers and media agencies really need.

They need media that is:

  • Easy to buy
  • Easy to manage
  • Has transparency to demonstrate proof of delivery

All of this adds up to return on investment.

Radio has been hobbling its own growth for years because as a business, we don’t actually understand why and how our clients buy radio. We're complicated and we're time-consuming and we expect our biggest clients to manually manage more than 10,000 spots a month.

We don't understand it costs four times more to manage a $400,000 radio campaign, than it does to manage a $4m TV campaign.

All this is easily remedied.

And right now - today - radio already has something our competitors cannot match.

We have listeners.

We have more listeners than Pandora and Spotify. We have more likes than Facebook.  Media agencies and marketers buy radio because despite the headaches we cause, our listeners are worth the effort.

Because they're real.

Radio doesn’t have spambots, clickbait and paid likes. We don’t ask our advertisers to accept 70% viewability from a campaign.  We don’t charge for a three second view.

Yes, we need to do a lot more work to be easier to buy and manage and measure.  But these things are easily fixed.

Even if our ratings are roughly six weeks old – our advertisers still know they represent real people.

If we bother to really look at our competitors – they’re extremely vulnerable.

Only two weeks ago, at the NewspaperWorks Future Forum in Sydney, Sir Martin Sorrell the head of WPP, lambasted some of radio’s strongest competitors.

He said brands are waking up to the poor audience measurement standards of companies like Facebook and Google and are shifting back to traditional media to find more engaged audiences.

Sir Martin told the forum (which incidentally included former ARN CEO Ciaran  Davis)  “The standards that are applied to viewership are extremely low, the hurdles are very low.

"For example, about half of all video is watched online without the sound and the scale that is used for viewership is three seconds."

Three seconds!  And no sound!

Radio’s ability to demonstrate audience isn’t perfect. And it could be better.

But we are SO much better than some of our flashy, trashy competition.  

It’s time we got out there and called their bluff.