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Radio: It’s not about More Choice – it’s about More Relevance

“Brands don’t necessarily need more choices, they need more choices that are personally relevant.”

That’s from advertising giant John Winsor, head of ad agency Victors & Spoils, the former VP/Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and soon to be interviewed for this blog.

Think about what that means. Especially in a world of blossoming choices – a world where anyone can copy your playlist song for song if they wish. How do you keep your audiences interested in your brand?

We tend to assume that the problem of too much choice means we need to offer even more choice (this was the premise of HD radio). That’s a bizarre conclusion since the race to more choice is one that radio will never win in a connected digital world. Indeed, nobody will win it (except for whoever indexes all that choice and facilitates our choice experience, but that’s another post).

“Personal relevance” implies content that is meaningful to me. And the more unique that content is the more your brand has a competitive advantage in providing it.

“Personal relevance” does not necessarily mean personalizable. The ability to custom-tailor my own radio station a la Pandora may create personal relevance, but that’s only one kind.

Just ask SiriusXM, whose 100-plus music channels at one time seemed bountiful and now seem quaint. Indeed, it’s not the “choice” that Sirius provides that gives it its edge, it’s the personal relevance they provide around that choice: From their comedy channels to the audio feeds of CNN and Fox News to Howard Stern to professional sports to the features built around the music on their latest addition, the Studio 54 channel. It’s not about more banal and listless music choices, it’s about the value packed between the songs or in channels that contain no songs at all.

My iPod is personally relevant.

My favorite morning show is personally relevant.

To his fans, Rush Limbaugh is personally relevant.

All of these things are personally relevant because they are doing more than filling a niche, an empty spot on the “what if?” menu. They are personally relevant because they inspire passion and concern. They make me personally want to pay attention.

And in our new world, nothing is more scarce or more precious than that.

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