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AG News: Wednesday - 8/19/2009

Google Dance Will Affect Radio Industry

We often speak about how the radio industry is relatively non-existent when it comes to showing up in a Google search for format-specific keywords. To read a quick primer on this topic, scan the Audio Graphics article "Being Where the People Are, For the People." It points to a simple fact: When Googling "Rap Radio Stations," not one commercial broadcaster is listed in the top 100 returns. Just think about that for a second before moving on.

The reason for bringing up Google and search, again, is to tip you to an upcoming Google Dance that is going to dramatically alter the returns on this search engine. A "Dance" is technical slang used when a search engine adjusts its algorithms, and web site rankings are altered. (For the record, Yahoo! and MSN's "Bing" pretty much reflect the same search engine return pages that you'll find on Google. Very few radio industry listings appear. To keep this brief, we'll not spend time on either of these - but don't discount the lost traffic by not being highly listed on them.)

Back to Google. Have you heard of Caffeine? This is not what's found in coffee, but the clever name that Google has given its soon-to-be-released, upgraded search algorithms. Here's how the Google Webmaster Blog describes Caffeine: For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google's web search. It's the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.

Google Caffeine will have a dramatic affect on search listings, so be forewarned that the search game is going to change. Now the question. Is your radio station ready?

Here is the sandbox for Google Caffeine (it's no longer availabe). The term "sandbox" is one which developers use to identify an area for experimentation. What's in the Google Caffeine sandbox at this moment may not be exactly what ends up on your screen after launch, but you can bet it's in close proximity. As in any "Dance" by Google, there will be winners and losers.

The Audio Graphics article (noted above) mentions that no broadcaster-owned rap radio station shows in the top 100 search returns for the keyword (rap radio stations). To this end, nothing will change with an injection of Caffeine. No radio industry rap stations will be there. Lost cause? You bet! Youth use search to find, and if the most popular radio format for youth can't be found in a search for "rap radio stations," it's an indicator that radio still isn't ready for the race.

But let's quickly digest three other radio formats that show a little search activity, emphasis on little. Country, Rock, and Talk will all be jostled about in this next Google Dance. Though movement may not be dramatic, here is how present search returns will look under the Caffeine algorithms. Note: These represent station order - not rank number - in the listing of 100 returns.

Country Format Returns Google - Current
Leading Radio Industry Returns
Google Caffeine
Leading Radio Industry Returns
KMPS 94.1
K-Star 99.7
97 Country
KSJJ 102.9
KNEI 103.5
Cat Country 97.5
WEZL 103.5
WSMI 106.1

Rock Format Returns Google - Current
Leading Radio Industry Returns
Google Caffeine
Leading Radio Industry Returns
WRIF 101
KROQ FM 106.7
KIOZ 105.3
105.9 The Rock
98 Rock
WRIF 101
KROQ FM 106.7
WDST 100.1
105.9 The Rock
WBCN 98.5
Talk Format Returns Google - Current
Leading Radio Industry Returns
Google Caffeine
Leading Radio Industry Returns

For everyone who believes that simply saying your radio station's web address over the air is enough to generate a volume of visitors large enough from which to pull revenue, good luck with your future. A simple formula of multiplying your ADI by its percent of demos in your station's P1 grouping and multiplying that figure by your area's broadband penetration rate will show your pool of potentials.

If you are coming around to understanding how a radio station's signal online must draw from the much larger national (or international) listener base, then you need to be concerned with Google Caffeine and where your station lists. (To compare the old and new Google side-by-side, go here.)

This is the future of being found.

Search can no more be ignored than you can ignore the calls for accountability for an advertiser's spend. If this is a statement that doesn't agree with your mindset, please, do a large amount of tranquilizers. You'll be better off sleeping through this next phase of online activity, when your audience is on Caffeine.

Google, Bing, Yahoo!, or whatever search engine you choose to ignore, will deliver to your online competitors all those people you are unable to reach. That's the reality of the internet. The longer you wait to raise your radio station's search engine rank, the deeper you'll sink into that hole called "not found."

About Contact Indie Artists Radio Stations Audience Data Privacy

President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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