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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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Dear Radio Persons: No, No, No, & No!

I am bewildered. No, make that confused and concerned after reading the comments streaming into yesterday's Radio Ink story featuring President & CEO of Horizon Media, Bill Koenigsberg. I urge you to read the article. Its importance to the future of radio's revenue cannot be overstated, yet the degree of denial within response from people in the radio industry is beyond incredulous.

Radio Ink placed a simple question before Bill Koenigsberg, who happens to Chair the 4As Media Committee: (Relative to radio receiving only 7% of ad spend) "...what it was going to take for radio to increase that number." His response, in brief: "Radio needs to do a better job of proving attribution, if I spend a dollar in radio, my return is "X" vs. a dollar somewhere else."

"The radio industry either needs to start providing response data, or prepare for the reality of dropping - or stagnant - share of ad revenue." Can this be said any simpler? Agencies are looking for radio to provide documented proof that the results of a radio campaign can be traced back to that campaign. (Verify this at, where "attribution" is shown as a derivative of the word "attribute," defined as "to regard as resulting from a specified cause; consider as caused by something indicated.")

Now, please, go read all of the comments made by radio industry people which follow this article. See if you are not stunned by the attempts to circumvent Bill Koenigsberg's response with trivial matters, with even Radio Ink stating "...his answer had nothing to do with the typical radio research which, to an advertiser, really means nothing."

Nearly all the comments revolve around "nothing to do with the typical radio research," as referenced by Radio Ink.

Look, I'm in love with radio as much as the next person. I think where we differ is that I view radio as being like my child who is taking the wrong path in life, choosing to stumble down the road of wanting to quit school because he doesn't believe there's anything else to be learned.

Mr. Koenigsberg is handing the radio industry an answer to increasing its portion of ad spend, and what we get back from those within the industry is another blast of "radio reaches 93% of the population each week." THIS IS NOT WHAT ADVERTISERS ARE AFTER TODAY!

Tying the response of an ad campaign back to the cash register, as is being done with a growing number of media, is what the radio industry must do. Click here for an example of a real campaign's response metric, the kind being requested by Bill Koenigsberg.

Not that I want to copy the Radio Ink article's comment section - you do need to read it - but, a couple of quotes from it will help me drive this home. 1) From Bruce McLaird: "No need to reinvent the wheel. Everything that you need to know about radio success is available by studying what was successful in the past." My God! No... studying radio's past is exactly the opposite of what is being requested. Radio has never before been invited to document response. Fact is, in most cases, it has avoided documenting response.

2) From Johnny Burke: "Another way to make radio more engaging, and advertising more effective, is to have a good personality capable of doing entertaining live commercials." No... It doesn't matter who (or what) you have on the air. Koenigsberg is asking for documented proof of performance - that running a commercial is tied directly with generating traffic. He doesn't care about a radio insider's emotion-based opinion on what constitutes good, or what is considered attention-grabbing programming.

3) From Ron Roberts: "I don't see these agencies injecting ANY mobile (text) bounce-back options in their produced commercials, either."

Ron continues: "If the client wants to see results, start with that. If they use their own short code, they have access to the data and can compare it to when their spots run. Boom. Solved."

While my response to Mr. Robert's answer is not an emphatic "no," the action of tracking response is far more complex than what's described, and it's because the radio industry has kept its head in the sand for over a decade on this subject that there's no understanding of how response metrics are delivered. This is not an easy "Boom. Solved." What's being requested is going to take real effort.

The radio industry either needs to start providing response data, or prepare for the reality of a dropping - or stagnant - share of ad revenue. And, while contemplating this, keep in mind that back in 2002, the radio industry was being told it had better start preparing for a swing to listening to radio online. Few in the crowd took the advice back then, and look at the scramble we have today.

Please, do not respond with an attitude displayed by one Simon Rushton (which sounds like it comes from the Twilight Zone"): "It's the advertisers who need to reinvent themselves...." No, No, No, & No! Not when the world is changing around you.

The Radio industry needs to respond to this change, in the way suggested by Jaye Albright's comments at Radio Ink.: We're at the stage of "shift, or get off the pot (of money)."

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