Over the past decade, commercial radio has stepped up their non-spot revenue hunt. Digital sales have become a major part of budgets for the local sales staffs. Each year brings more competition and audiences have become harder to harness. In 2006, radio revenue was 18.1 billion according to Investing In Radio Market Report. By 2016, projected revenues are only expected to be 17.0 billion. Digital sales are only projected to increase .36 billion! That will not fill the gap.
Will Digital Save Commercial Radio?
Probably not! Why would you chose commercial digital over any of the “make your own personal format” choices available today? Like Pandora, Jango, Slacker, AOL Music, MeeMix, or the choices on satellite which have no commercials. You can pick only the music you like, make it as eclectic as you like and see one commercial every 5 or 6 songs. Or listen to commercial radio digital and hearing the same streaming that you would hear on live radio.
Is Less Really More?
I love radio. I started out in broadcast sales with radio and it has always been near and dear to my heart. It has also been one of the most frustrating to watch. Big broadcast groups with big money continue to make decisions they bought from one of their many consultants in an attempt to increase sales. They have actually made it harder to buy. Turns off a lot of potential clients and they still don’t see the mistake in their thinking.
This is one of my favorite pitches of late; the “less is more” sales strategy employed by a major radio chain. They somehow think they can convince you that selling a:30 second spot is just as good as a:60 second spot. Oh, I forgot to mention, at the same rate or at a premium rate because “you’re getting the same [or more] after all”! Then you tune in the station and you hear 12 commercials in a break instead of the old 4-6 before the new concept came into play.
If you are an advertiser and you are the 5-12th position in the commercial break, you need to rethink how you are spending your money. You certainly could have more impact in other ways.
What is the answer to the problem?
Consultants have many solutions… or… ideas, most of them not tested. Or if they have been tested, it’s in not similar markets with not similar formats. I have my own thoughts which I will cover in Part II of this subject. In the meantime, I’ll look into what the experts say, what radio sales reps say and other active personnel have to say. All should create interesting comments and theories. As they say, “Stay Tuned”…