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AG News: Monday - 1/26/2009

Radio Options Are to Learn and Adjust

In college I was part of an educational puppet show. "Animal Crackers" was directed by my drama professor - Doug Kaya - and it was an engaging, interactive stage performance. I can only ask that you imagine five twenty-year old performers with more energy than the students they played to. We were sent to every elementary and middle school in the state of Hawaii to interact, educate, and spread aloha - happiness.

Though the above interactivity occurred over 35 years ago, the reason it was successful has not changed. While we college students were giving the younger audience informative entertainment, each of us was receiving an education on how humans respond. Thanks to Professor Kaya, we would discuss how to improve our response to the audience's response after each show. Every performance taught us how to interact with a little more finesse. It was a daily regimen; we learned, we analyzed, we adjusted.

The world seems to be falling apart for many people in the radio industry today. They stopped learning and adjusting due to a complacency brought on by previous successes. In part, there was an arrogance built around being one of the few businesses selling radio's product - a route to the masses. (We're not talking about programming here. This conversation is strictly about the interaction between radio and its advertisers.)

Radio did not react when it started to become obvious that the internet was creating another "route to the masses." Despite being urged to learn and adjust, radio industry leaders (as little as five years ago) were paying no attention to the building competition. There was no adjustment because there was no learning about the internet.

I have spoken with two persons in the past week who are seriously questioning radio's ability to make the changes required for sustained profits. If you work on the sales side of radio, you would recognize either person's name instantly. Both shared that they feel a need for change, yet both question how they could make the change. There seem to be too many obstacles in teaching, too much resistance for learning, and almost no desire to adjust.

I voiced concern that managers must devote time and energy to teaching themselves current advertising options - or they will not manage much longer.

Learn and adjust.

For the typical radio GSM it has too long been a system based on selling holes in programming. The warnings of a diminishing CPM and decreasing demand for avails have been shouted many times over the past ten years. Now we have reached the point where a media buyer can lay out a spreadsheet and decide exactly what part of an advertising campaign is working - and which isn't.

To those who want to continue in radio sales there's no longer any question your approach must change. Advertisers are demanding it, proven by interactive advertising walking away with an increasingly larger share of the pie.

To prevent further erosion, radio industry sales pros must create similar systems that make radio accountable.

With today's technology, place a premium on improving response to a client's campaign and on collating data a client never thought to collect. Learn new things; embrace performance pricing. Uncover the various ways to charge for response. They do exist.

There is a brighter future than you expected if, after learning a new approach to selling radio, you analyze and adjust.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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