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Are you just counting the pitches?

We readily accept the notion that 20% of a brand's customers (and usually fewer) contribute 80% of a brand's sales.

So why do we fail to understand and appreciate why a brand would possibly trade passive impressions to hundreds of thousands of potential customers for engaging interactions with tens – or even ones – of thousands online?

Brands value participation from consumers because brands are selling products and services, and history has shown that those consumers who are most likely to purchase those products and services are also more likely to engage directly with their favorite brands.

For the first time on a mass scale, brands have the ability to bypass media built on the premise of "impressions" for media which reach their customers directly and allow previously unheard levels of interaction and participation.

Marketing is, in other words, becoming part of the products your clients sell – as opposed to being strictly a messaging device for those products.

This, and the ability to measure the precise impact of such marketing against predetermined goals, is exactly what's sparking the movement of ad dollars into digital media.

Your clients are not simply swapping radio (and other media) dollars for banner ad dollars, they're swapping one way of thinking for another.  They're trading in the idea of anonymous impressions for the idea of engaged interactions.

If you could reach the 20% of your consumer base that buys 80% of your stuff and tighten your relationship with them directly, wouldn't you?

There are a host of opportunities for broadcasters to excel in this world, but none of them are visible in the rear-view mirror.  None are strictly due to the premise that radio reaches almost everybody almost anyplace.  None can be demonstrated with Arbitron ratings – PPM or otherwise.

Indeed, many of the dollars leaving broadcast media are going to digital destinations where the reach is unambiguously smaller than the reach of broadcast.

Ultimately, radio must be in the business of impact, not the business of reach.

Peter Daboll, Yahoo's former Chief Insights Officer put it best:  "If baseball were measured like advertising, you would only count the pitches."

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