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Thursday, February 23, 2012
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Understanding the Why Behind the Buy

In January 2008, these words appeared here: "...'Competing on Analytics' by Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris...explains why the business world is turning to greater use of metrics and analytics. 'Competing on Analytics,' you can say, is a primer - the 2x4 upside the head - that shows a vastly changing world where everything you do is measured, evaluated, and benchmarked for use in determining future progress."

Not much has changed since then for the radio industry in that we do not see a use of analytics or metrics within. Fact is, radio has avoided understanding why marketing occurs for both the action of selling ads and in the world of a consumer who purchases from a radio station's client. We'll touch more on this in a moment.

"Nowhere in this help wanted ad does it mention knowing how to market a product through radio." First, though, let me introduce you to an important article at the New York Times titled "How Companies Learn Your Secrets." It's long, informative, and deals with how mega store Target approaches the understanding of its customers; as quoted in the article, "Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things, like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothing."

May I offer a strong suggestion you read this completely to gain a fundamental knowledge of how marketing works today. Then, when you are through with it, let me introduce you to another short item to read: a Clear Channel help wanted ad for a "Cluster Account Executive- Los Angeles." After this you'll understand the root of problems in the radio industry, and why it appears spot radio sales are slowing-to-dropping in medium and major markets.

Metrics and analytics are not new topics to long-time readers of Audio Graphics. I've been involved with dissecting these numbers for over a decade, and can provide proof how spending time with this discipline will increase revenue. It's just that I've had an extremely difficult time getting radio executives to comprehend the importance of integrating this marketing technique.

Radio, it seems, is content on sending out account reps to sell spots, avails, commercials - and more recently, new media and Off-Air product. But, here's what's being missed in the radio industry, easily demonstrated by simply viewing the Clear Channel help wanted ad mentioned above.

From its overview: Clear Channel Los Angeles is searching for our next great cluster account executive. This sales professional will represent the eight station CC LA cluster at select major Los Angeles advertising agencies. 75% of LA and Orange counties listen to Clear Channel radio stations each week, so we are looking for only the very best individuals to work with our largest agency partners to maximize results for both parties.

This is followed by a listing of the position's responsibilities, which read:

• Develop new business by cold calling and obtaining face to face appointments
• Generate revenue and meet sales targets
• Establish, maintain and grow relationships with client base and agencies
• Develop and maintain ongoing relationships with corporate, advertising and
public relations communities
• Solicit funding for broadcast and non-broadcast projects, special events,
web streaming and other off-air projects
• Develop presentations to corporations and agencies designed to sell
marketing solutions
• Maintain an organized format on each sales call, covering all important topics:
client marketing analysis, target consumer needs, benefits sought,
assignments and follow-up

Most important is what follows this, the "qualifications" that CC is looking for
in the individual who fills this position:
• Bachelor’s degree required
• Minimum 2 years major market radio sales experience selling to agency clients
• Proven success in increasing share-of-business from agencies
• Ability to gain access to key buying influences at the buying, planning,
and account levels
• Documented history of developing ‘non-avail’ business from agency accounts
• Success in selling integrated marketing campaigns, digital programs and
new business development
• Working knowledge of Arbitron, Scarborough, X-Ray and other key software
is critical
• Ability to build lasting business relationships with customers
• Develop revenue from new businesses as well as revenue from existing clients
• Outstanding marketing/presentation oral & written communication skills,
strong organization and interpersonal skills

Read the full help wanted ad here.

What I'd like you to digest as you go through all of these points is how it appears the radio industry - as represented in this case by Clear Channel - is totally void in requiring a "Cluster Account Executive" to have an understanding of the marketing process, how to query an advertiser on their needs, how to assess construction of a marketing campaign to best fit those needs, or how to quanitify what the advertising campaign will deliver once the client places an order.

While marketers are chasing down the use of analytics and metrics in consumer contact, the radio industry continues to recruit individuals who lack this knowledge - and it appears the industry really doesn't care if its account reps understand how an ad campaign works, either. Nowhere in this help wanted ad does it mention knowing how to market a product through radio.

We're not talking about small or medium-small markets here. This ad is for the nation's 2nd largest market, and the person that's being looked for to fill the position will represent a "cluster" of radio stations within Los Angeles, CA.

What's most remarkable to me is that nowhere in this list of responsibilities or qualifications is mentioned a need to quantify to clients their campaign response, or ROI. If you read the New York Times article, that is the essence of what Target has teams of people devoted to doing. (One might argue that the last point under "responsibilities" covers the above, but it appears aimed more at internal communications for Clear Channel than building a campaign schedule for clients.)

The radio industry sales arm is being run today in nearly the exact same way it was running in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the first decade of the new century. When will executives responsible for selling to radio advertisers introduce concepts of accountability, using the basics of what most companies are now turning their eyes towards?

Clear Channel's CEO, Bob Pittman (for whom I have immense respect), has recently been quoted with this: “If people don’t like the industry, get out of the business.” That's a rather harsh way to say that if you don't agree with what he's saying, you shouldn't be working in radio. My preference is that if a person doesn't like the radio industry as it is, they should work - very hard - to try and change whatever is destroying it. (I think you'll find many people believe Clear Channel is at the forefront of destroying radio.)

This help wanted ad from CC is not something you'll see produced only by this company. Go to any radio group and read their help wanted ads. The responsibilities and qualifications are similar.

I beg you to read the article at the New York Times and convert what Target does for its customers into a schema for how radio should be approaching its advertising clients. While the bit about identifying those in a "second trimester" is not relative to radio, understanding data that leads an account rep to better know the needs of a client is.

However, the radio industry needs to first recruit account reps with knowledge of how to quantify expectations and campaigns - two items the Clear channel help wanted ad doesn't consider worthy of mentioning.

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