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The Most Important Thing You’ll Read about Radio’s Future This Year

Don't read this if you don't care about radio's future or if you're counting down the days to your retirement.

Every now and then some thinking comes along that puts it all in perspective.  This piece from Ad Age is one such summation of thinking that has been bubbling up over the past few months from folks like Tom Asacker and others.

What is the blueprint for what radio will need to be to compete successfully as a vital enterprise in the years to come?

The trajectory of our future can be summed up as follows:

Almost every consumer marketer I've spoken to…is moving toward the goal of making marketing more outcome-specific, targeted, useful and conversational, and less about blasting of what we've generally called "brand" messages via specific platforms. They see some of today's media companies as shaping into useful potential partners in those efforts, and others as increasingly redundant — and they're spending less and less with the latter.

The radio – media – company of the future will:

1. Act more like a marketing company than a media company.

Says Ad Age:  "Good partners will be marketing companies, operations set up and focused on solving brand marketers' problems by means of the connection they can create with an audience and results that connection can deliver."

In other words, the model will shift from selling access to listener ears in bulk toward selling solutions to marketers' problems via connections.  That is essentially the difference between "advertising" and "marketing," so choose your side of the fence wisely.

2. Be organized around an audience and not a platform.

Broadcasters frequently talk about being "platform agnostic," but too often what that really means is putting our radio signal in other places or on other devices.  That's just transporting the problem, not solving it.  Your job is to rally an audience of raving fans and satisfy the appetites of those fans while connecting them to the marketers who crave them.  Period.

3. Work directly with marketers.

Being bought off a ranker is not the same as working in partnership with marketers.  Increasingly, the ranker-buyers will be the obstacles to our success, not the reason for it.

4. Not just create spaces for ads next to content, it'll create whole media channels and platforms for brands

Writes Ad Age: "Brands want to be at the center of content and communities and they're going to create these channels with or without media companies."  It's up to us to bring the talent to the party and to build these channels in concert with advertisers.  Or they will simply build them without us.

5. Employ technologists who can build device-agnostic platforms for marketers.

Note the distinction between building these platforms for marketers and building them for your radio brands.  Recognize above all else who is in the driver's seat.  Hint:  It's not your radio brand.  It's your radio brand's customer base, the marketers.

6. Know how to deliver instantaneous gratification when it comes to measurement, and it'll be measuring outcomes not outputs. A rating…stat is not going to be enough in the future, and certainly not when it's presented weeks after the fact.

The dawn of the post-Arbitron world is before us.  

What are you doing to make your efforts accountable today?

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