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AG News: 6/5/2007

The Radio Industry / Local Search Disconnect

Borrell Associates has released its "What Local Web Sites Earn: 2007 Survey." Of interest to Audio Graphics' readers are these two items from this report: "Local online advertising is expected to hit $7.5 billion this year, a 31.6 percent increase over 2006." And that the radio industry will be netting just 2.2% of local internet ad spend (up from the 1% last year).

Two sentences about Borrell, then a few paragraphs on how its information is consistent with the lethargic movements radio has made towards incorporating the internet into its business model.

Gordorn Borrell has been producing these reports for a number of years, and they've earned the right to be held in high regard. Download his Executive Summary of this version, or buy the complete report at Borrell & Associates web site.

Radio needs to be given a swift kick in the _______ (choose whichever body part you think appropriate). To have fallen so far behind other media with this race for local online revenue is a disgrace, and it reflects the quality of management that has sat in radio's ivory towers over the past ten years.

To say that the radio industry is starved for knowledge about what the masses are doing online is being gracious. So, let's just call it like it is - ignoring another oncoming train.

Online advertising has been growing. It's been the buzz of the ad world for at least five years. That radio has let itself slide to such a low percentage of local online advertising revenue only shows the industry's complete lack of understanding in what is of interest to local merchants.

Don't say there haven't been warning signs either. Here are but a few of the many headlines about "local internet advertising," and quotes on why radio needs to get with the program. All that's below have appeared at

August 23, 2004 - The oncoming train of local search. The immediate threat is that many local businesses are just beginning to see how the internet is a required business outlet, either as a brochure or sales point. Money is being spent to improve the weaknesses of web sites, which nearly every business with enough money to advertise on radio has.

March 25, 2005 - Keep Your Eyes on Local Search While you may think local search is only a threat to the Yellow Pages, please think again. We are replacing one competitor with a stronger, more youthful, and efficient way of getting a business name in front of people when they are looking to buy - locally.

May 2, 2005 - Local Search Advertising, the Next Train To those in the radio industry who ignored the oncoming trains of satellite radio, internet radio, and downloaded music, beware of the next one - it holds potential to do more damage than all the others combined. Local search engine advertising is getting its grip.

Oct. 6, 2005 - Local Search - In Your Town, Too Local search is an apparent plus for the business too - capturing attention at the point of interest. An advertiser is pushed up to the top rankings as the price of their local search ad campaign increases: Pay more. Rise higher. Simple enough.

Nov. 10, 2005 - Survey Shows Why Local Search Will Soon Explode Online" has become synonymous with "information and, as this becomes apparent to more local businesses, look for their advertising dollars to move there with greater speed.

May 9, 2006 - Local Search Gaining Traction Imagine a radio station where advertisers could place products for sale online. Bolstered by an on-air campaign, the ability to connect with consumers in a given town and have them go to the internet to purchase products directly through a station web site could be a big plus for local media.

May 17, 2006 - Moving Money: Radio Industry To Search Engine Optimizing Had a meeting yesterday with a mid-size company's management team, the topic was improving their web site and how to raise its rank on search engines. What's important for readers of this column to realize is that this company used to spend its money with the radio industry.

July 12, 2006 - Local Search Will Damage Radio Industry What's at Google is very similar to what's offered by MSN, and Yahoo!. All are easy to use for a consumer or advertiser, which is why there's only a short time before we begin seeing more of radio's advertisers spending time and money on being listed in local search returns.

Dec. 19, 2006 - Radio Should Know What Businesses Are Turning To Online While business owners have been looking increasingly closer at online advertising opportunities over the past few years, it's a safe bet to say that radio industry executives have only recently noticed the new competition. It's a mirror of the apathy the radio industry showed to satellite radio ten years ago.

OK - that's enough... there were many more articles about how local search was going to creep up on local radio, posted here after these dates, but you get the message: The radio industry did not get the message.

Today, radio is attracting only 2.2% of total local online advertising revenue.

Had someone in their ivory tower been paying attention to anything more than their own hype, radio would not be so far behind other forms of media.

Radio needs to adjust to this invasion by local search because local advertisers already have, and so have radio's local media competitors.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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