The apparent insanity of Google audio ads

So let’s conduct an exercise.

I’m a merchant in San Diego. I have no experience with radio before but would like to advertise there.

So I go to Google Audio Ads.

My target is both Men and Women 25-54, and I’d like to limit my spend to stations which have at least 50% of their audience within that demo (even though Google tried to trick me into defaulting that limit to a mere 5%). [Click to view larger]


There are only five measly stations which qualify according to these parameters (and broadcast “primarily” in English). And that’s based on Arbitron data from 2006 (yes, 2006)!

What are these stations? One AC, three Rock, and one Country. Beyond that, who knows?

So with a modest budget of $500 per week, the estimated CPM is $2.25 for impressions in my target demographic. That’s for 126 ad plays on five stations. [Click to view larger]


Experts tell me that actually selling this time the old fashioned way could net stations three times this amount.

Further, compare that CPM to those of Yahoo, MySpace, MSN, and ESPN online – all of which are higher – some much higher – than the cost for your audience’s ears in your own local community.

Is this the new face of radio?

Undifferentiated and anonymous brands commoditizing airtime in bundles cheap enough to be affordable and small enough to be ineffective?

I’m not in the business of radio sales, but I’d sure like somebody to explain to me why this is a good, healthy, effective, and value-reinforcing path for the radio industry, it’s listeners, and its clients.

Aren’t the expensive online brands expensive because of the value of those brands? When we make our stations anonymous widgets – even in our home markets – don’t we undercut the very basis of value creation and resign ourselves to a future as the media industry’s dollar store?

Postscript:

From Mediapost: “Ninety-five percent of Web display ads, [one analyst notes], are sub-prime with costs-per-thousand under $2.”

Does this mean we’re doing well?

CONTACT MARK RAMSEY

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