“Radio” is now “Audio” says the Ad Industry

The moment I have been predicting for the past three years has evidently finally come to pass: The advertising industry is about to do what the radio industry itself has not – redefine the very category of our industry.

According to a new report by MediaVest, radio is now “audio”:

In a new report being circulated to clients, MediaVest has adopted the position that terrestrial broadcast radio should no longer be looked at as a discrete medium in communications plans, but as part of a greater array of audio media–including satellite, online, mobile and a variety of personal media device technologies, such as iPods, other MP3 players, and even television, which increasingly is being used as an audio-only medium.

The report continues:

MediaVest’s new approach to audio planning is part of a growing industry shift away from defining media based on their distribution platforms and toward understanding how consumers interact with the essential nature of their content and formats. TNS Media Intelligence President-CEO Steven Fredericks argues that in the future, “Content is defined not by its old media name, but by its core property: text, video and audio. All content, clarified and freed, can be distributed via any converged technology.”

In my two-year-old book Fresh Air, I noted that radio was no longer “radio” but was now the “audio entertainment and information industry.” It’s critical for all broadcasters to get their heads around this notion because the definition of your industry determines everything about your strategy and everything about your fate.

Under a definition of radio as “audio entertainment and information” the channel by which content reaches the consumer is considerably less important than the nature of the content itself and how that content is leveraged and magnified across channels. It’s the ownership and licensing of the content, not the ownership of the channel, that will make tomorrow’s “audio” stars.

What are the implications of this to YOUR station and group’s strategy?

It means that you had better abandon the notion of greater success by doing more of what you have always done – but harder. It means you had better start assessing your content and determining how much is uniquely yours and how much is easily duplicated by audio competitors. It means you should be asking how to leverage your content into pictures and video and across every conceivable channel of distribution. It means that creating all-new distribution channels with zero distribution solely owned by the radio industry isn’t the way the trend is moving, even if you call it “HD.”

It means you’re not in the “radio” business anymore.

More from the report:

One issue with MediaVest’s switch to an audio-based view of media is that many of the new audio technologies are not ad-supported. “That’s a huge problem,” says David Shiffman, senior vice president-research director at MediaVest, who still thinks more ad-supported and sponsorship models will find their way into premium audio content for one simple reason: “People don’t like paying for more and more media content.”

And who do you think should be the primary force driving these new ad-supported models?

That should be YOU, my broadcasting friends.

Because it will happen with or without you.

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