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What are Radio’s “Great New Ideas”?

You have probably heard about the changes at Netflix.  One company is now becoming two, with the original brand providing the streaming content and the new brand (ironically) covering the DVD-by-mail business that made Netflix famous.

Whether or not this is the right move is something only time will prove.  But the motivations behind it couldn’t be clearer, and those motivations should resonate for everyone in the broadcast business, too.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings:

Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

With the NAB conference now in radio’s rear-view mirror, it’s useful to ask ourselves the question:  Are we moving “too fast” or “too slowly”?

Much attention was focused in the usual places:

  1. What radio’s bigwigs say

  2. What radio’s Washington lobbyists say

  3. What Wall Street analysts say

  4. What Pandora says

But not a lot was focused on our two most important constituencies, our consumers and our advertisers.

What really stuck out for me was a quote by Eddie Combs, VP-chief marketing officer of home appliances at Sears, a quote not from a radio industry trade, by the way, but from Ad Age:

“I need help,” he told the crowd. “When you pitch ideas to me, say, ‘I’ve got a creative group, they have a great idea’ if you can help me play off something I’m currently doing in-market and extend that, as opposed to helping me fragment.”

Eddie is talking about ideas.

He’s talking about the creative nexus between content and advertising and consumers that should be the job of every seller and every content director, too.

He’s talking about ideas, not spots.

Ideas which bring masses of consumers together in the presence of the Sears brand and yours.

So from the consumer standpoint, what is radio doing to deliver “the great new things people want”?  Or are we too afraid that “becoming great” at these new things will hurt our initial business?

And from the advertiser standpoint, what is radio doing to deliver the great new ideas advertisers want, not simply the lowest cost-per-point their agency buyers demand?

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