"Programmatic Audio" - That's the Answer!

Buzzwords are beautiful! Through the years, the radio industry has produced multiple buzzwords in attempts to attach itself to digital.

Remember when the "Radio Accountability Initiative" was launched in 2009? The objective was to signal that radio was responding to the accountability being trumpeted online, though radio did not seek to provide metrics of response. To quote an AdWeek article: "The 'Radio Accountability Initiative' introduced Wednesday (March 18) in Orlando at the RAB's annual conference, will help ensure that an advertiser's commercials get on the right radio outlets at the right time." (See if you get that from the this press release.)

Former RAB CEO, Gary Fries, used buzzwords. One quote of April 28, 2005 - on March Revenue - was emblematic in an industry lacking answers: "Radio is evolving at a rapid pace, both technologically and creatively... Growth should remain steady throughout the year, as the medium and its advertisers explore how to maximize the advantages emerging from this new landscape."
Today we have "programmatic," a word representing sales of radio ads using software.

Being thrown about by radio trades, and at this year's NAB, "programmatic" is the next big thing; it's supported by none-other than iHeartRadio's CEO, Robert Pittman, with the announcement of "iHeartMedia and Jelli working together." (And the crowds cheer with delight.) But here's a quote from that same CEO in 2011, during a time of resistance: "...broadcasters shouldn't become too hung up on digital revenue."

Only programmatic buying is not something radio is going to step into easily. It's complex, gives control to buyers, and reduces by one-more-notch radio's cry of having relationships with its local clients.

Remember Google's bid to help radio sell airtime through software? It was called "Google Audio". I wrote this in February 2007, about the display at that year's RAB Show: "Google had a slick display featuring its Google Audio. Yet, each time I walked past its booth, there was a distinct lack of persons surrounding the computer screens to explain this new form of radio sales."

Eight years ago next week, shortly after penning the above, I wrote: "At NAB 2007 the Google Audio booth was swamped with people. I'm going to claim this the repercussion of having Clear Channel announce an alliance with Google Audio." Google and Clear Channel had disagreements on implementation, and the relationship vaporized.

Soon after, the radio industry turned its back on them and I had the opportunity to work with Google's team. This was shortly after I, literally, wrote a booklet explaining to clients the use of another online ad serving platform.

Here is what I know, the difference between the worlds of digital and radio is simple: The former creates, implements and updates initiatives - constantly. The latter talks about what it "will do," "can do," and "how it will be done."

Programmatic ad buying is another word picked up by those in radio, in hopes of connecting with young ad buyers. While just beginning to get its legs in the digital ad world, for radio, programmatic ad buying will be as successful as HD Radio, Less is More, and the Radio Creative Resource Group.

In 2008, I wrote a memo saying "RAB graduated its first class of 'Certified Digital Media Consultants,' although I'm not sure what they learned." It continued: "To quote the [CDMC] book: 'The CDMC recognizes Radio sellers and managers who have developed a special understanding of the new marketing alternatives that have proliferated in an era of unprecedented technological change, and how Radio can serve to accelerate the power of those marketing tools to meet marketers needs and desires as they face their unique and dynamic needs in building brands, generating traffic, and selling products.'" The memo closes with: "It really does say all of that, in one sentence...they've learned all that in three, 3 hour sessions."

I don't see where radio execs have changed their thinking. To radio, digital selling still appears to be easy. We'll continue to hear much about another something that will die on the vine, like so many previous words spoken on "what we're going to do."

For now, for radio, the word "programmatic" has a thematic sound of being techified. That's all that matters.

Publisher's "Exception" Note: Keep your eyes on CBS Interactive. It is showing the most innovative efforts for long term survival. Wouldn't be surprised to see it leave all others in its dust, or merge.

Friday, April 17, 2015      eMail to a Friend

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