08/24

Do Advertisers think Radio is Irrelevant?

Some advertisers think people don’t listen to the radio anymore.

That’s the essence of what one of Radio’s leading group heads said to me recently.

And that explains radio’s obsession with showcasing our reach, which is consistently about as big as ever, and thus as newsworthy as announcing the arrival of the sun every morning and the moon at night.

“You mean to tell me advertisers actually tell you they think people don’t listen to the radio anymore?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“It’s funny they would argue that – and then move their ad dollars to media and platforms which are unambiguously consumed by fewer people than radio,” I replied.

I went on to argue that this position of some advertisers is a red herring.  It’s a rationalization.  It’s not the real thing they think – otherwise it wouldn’t lead them to act the way they do.

In other words, we’re listening to their words, not studying their actions.

So what do their actions tell us?  What does it mean when they move dollars from media which reach lots of people and direct those dollars to platforms and media which don’t?

It means they value characteristics they don’t see in radio.  It means our industry’s image problem is not be helped by our industry’s image-makers.

It means that “we reach more people than ever” is exactly the wrong antidote to the problem.

What these advertisers value is novelty.  What they look for is innovation. What they want are fresh ways to connect consumers with their clients’ products and services.  What they want are ideas which will excite their clients and justify their existence to those clients and radio’s role in it.  Agencies are compensated as much based on the quality of their ideas as on the quality of their results (sad to say).

Instead of focusing on the extraordinarily “old news” of radio’s reach (yawn), why don’t we focus on what’s new about radio and its various platforms and assets?  Why don’t we focus on innovative ways to connect consumers with advertisers and with each other?  Why don’t we focus on fresh ways we reach people and reach out to people?  Why don’t we focus on fresh content streams and how we’re using new platforms to advance our brands, our audiences, and their connections with advertisers?

Going on about “reach” only reinforces our image as an industry out of touch with today’s trends.

Indeed, we’re moving from a “reach-oriented” world to an analytics-oriented one.  From mass to personalized.  From passive to active.  From consume to co-create. From “local” to “neighborhood.” From “you” to “me.”

So what have you done for “me” lately?

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