Google’s promotional brochure for Audio Ads explains: “To protect your local card, we do not allow our advertisers to buy/target specific stations. Likewise, we do not disclose your rate-card information or guarantee placement on any specific station.” Instead, Audio Ads allows advertisers to make “demographic” buys targeting local, regional and national audiences–using general categories of station content, such as urban contemporary, country, easy listening, and talk.
This means that Google is trying to create a world without station-specific power ratios, a world where there is no brand value – unless that value is realized in the raw number of listeners your station might have in its format or demographic.
In other words, your station’s heritage, its relationships, its environment, all the stuff that makes one set of call letters bigger than another – none of that matters in the Google Audio system. Instead, your station is just another recepticle for listeners, the more the better.
Most established advertisers will probably find the system imprecise, since it’s standard practice in the industry to target specific radio stations. But Google is gambling that smaller advertisers, which are new to radio, will find demographic targeting effective enough to become long-term clients.
But here’s what it really means: Not only will smaller advertisers not know where their spot is placed, they’re not likely ever to hear it on the air.
If there’s anything we know about the psychological impact of advertising on the folks who buy it, it’s this: They like to see and hear their advertising at work.
Especially in an audio world where the result of the advertising (sales, traffic, etc.) cannot be directly linked to the spot itself (contrast that with the online world, where traffic is generated every time you click a Google text ad).
This strikes me as a strategy which diminishes your radio station’s brand and will, in the long run, push stations to minimize their differentiation because in the eyes of advertisers differentiation would be irrelevant.
And without that, good luck in getting the big audience numbers that Google Audio cares about.