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One Radio Council’s Dumb Attempt to Reposition Pandora

Increasingly, radio recognizes that Pandora is a rising presence, both among listeners and advertisers.

What to do about that?

Well, don’t take the strategy of one particular large market radio council, who sent this slide to the local advertising community:

I have hidden the identity of the offending radio council so they’re not embarrassed or enraged when I call this one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.

It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.

First, I understand the essential point is that we want you to spend your money on radio, not on Pandora.  So what’s the message?  “Pandora is not radio.  Its use is not as unique nor as lasting as radio’s.”

What?  What does that even mean?

In fact, Pandora IS radio by my definition, and radio IS Pandora by that same definition.

“Its use is not as unique nor as lasting”?  I have absolutely no idea what this means, and a muddled headline surely doesn’t reflect well on the local radio council that peppers it across the local ad community.  Smart agencies might ask:  “If you can’t communicate your own benefits, Mr. Radio Council, how are you supposed to communicate those of my clients?”

And what I presume to be a Google Trend chart is even more absurd.  Even the maker of the slide seems to know this when he or she acknowledges “with registered users topping 80 million, maybe everyone knows about Pandora by now and there’s no need to search for it.”

You think?

How, in the context of that, could the same author conclude that interest peaked in 2009 and has since “fallen off 50%”?

There is no necessary correlation between Google searches and interest, especially when interest as defined by registration has exploded over that same period.

“Radio, on the other hand, just gained another 2.1 million listeners per week and reaches over 93% of people age 12+.”

Listen, radio gains listeners and reaches so many primarily because population rises and radio remains ubiquitous for that population.  Pandora is selling its trajectory, not its 100-year history of ubiquity.

And if you want to know what happens when trajectory meets ubiquity, check back with Pandora in another year or two.

Advertisers want to spend their money in the places that most efficiently connect their clients and their consumers. It is inevitable that Pandora’s status in this area will rise, and it makes a lot more sense to recognize the changing context of the consumer and advertiser environment than it does to distribute absurd and muddled missives to advertisers who will think us to be fools for the effort.

There’s plenty to argue for radio’s ongoing relevance in the advertising mix. And there’s plenty of opportunity for new strategic initiatives designed to leverage radio’s enviable reach to solve new problems for advertisers and consumers alike.

But only the thoughtful and strategic broadcasters will be up to that challenge.

For the rest, there are ridiculous Powerpoint slides.

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