“Radio: Wave of the Future”

I'm not keen on reprinting feel-good nonsense meant to soothe the consciences of radio broadcasters and make us feel better about what we do in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  I believe it's the cold slap of reality that motivates greatness, not the limp affirmations provided by radio's own PR efforts.

That's why I'm so pleased to bring you this piece from MediaPost, called "Radio: Wave of the Future."

This is much more than feel-good crap.  It is a well-reasoned and fact-filled argument for the relevance for radio as an ad medium and a listening resource, even in these times. And it even offers up some directions for improvement – for making radio even more relevant to an increasingly stingy advertiser base.

You should definitely read it.

Here's the central argument:

The good news in these tough economic times is that radio is relatively cheap to create and produce. Moreover, its short and simple production times allow brands to be opportunistic and flexible in their media buys–a noteworthy advantage over the more-than-four week production lead times of out-of-home, magazine and newsprint, and TV's eight-week minimum.  Most important, however, is that great radio work can have a huge impact. Best-in-class examples: Bud Light's Real Men of Genius, or CDP's Hamlet cigars. A 2005 study by research firms Millward Brown and IRI found that radio provided 49% better return-on-investment than TV. In recent years, numerous studies conducted by third parties prove that radio is more personally relevant, more persuasive and just as emotionally engaging as TV. Some particularly thorough researchers have gone so far as to use facial electromyography to track emotional response!  Radio as a medium is tailor-made to the challenges of our multi-tasking, ADD age. Consumers might be working, driving or gaming, but they can still listen. Acceptance of radio ads is higher than that of TV ads: 51% of the listeners queried by American Media Services claim they do not switch radio channels when commercials come on. I recently worked on Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign. In qualitative groups, my colleagues and I were shocked at how many respondents recalled lines from the radio–even more so than the TV.  With so much to offer marketers, where are the new opportunities for brand integration in radio programming? In the 21st century, radio and brands should have a more evolved relationship than "Prairie Home Companion" and Powdermilk Biscuits. Where are the custom sound skins on podcasts rather than the usual sponsorship messages? Why not bring real brand integration into programming content? Or savvy communications planning, where ads complement content?

Note to the industry:  To bring brand integration into programming content you need some programming content.

Just a thought.

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