What follows has roots in an article I wrote in 2002. It questioned how we can expect anyone to get something "new" right if, before we understand it, there's a rush to move on to something even newer.
We have a long road in the radio industry that's littered with failed attempts to be the next "big thing." LMiV was a reference in my 2002 article. It had just folded after being launched by ten radio groups. The concept was to combine forces and slay a host of new "new media" companies.
"We're so busy moving forward that nobody seems to understand where we're at."
LMiV was intent on doing what new media was doing, only better. My take on it (in 2002) was that everything was moving at such a rapid pace there wasn't time for anyone lacking background in computers, the internet, and its extensions to understand what they had to work with. All radio industry executives fit this description back then. Most still do today.
Quoting the then President of Emmis (LMiV's lead company), Dole Rose:
"With these [radio] companies' combined audience of 100 million listeners and links to their local stations sites, the portal will be a formidable competitor to the likes of Yahoo! and Amazon.com."
My response was akin to ok, you can get attention - but then what? No one in the radio industry understood how to use technology. It was easy to predict LMiV's demise. (See what I wrote
when it launched in 1999.)
As the NAB/RAB "RadioShow" gets underway in Chicago, let's take a moment to recap just how much enthusiasm there is going in - so we can make comparisons after it ends. I've asked this question for a number of years now (not really expecting an answer) and want to put it on the table again. What is it that you expect to see AFTER this radio industry convention?
If past years can be used as an example, I'll throw out that there won't be much change in radio.
Sure we have Clear Channel introducing its iHeartRadio, which appears to be a lot of effort to combat a company that's "not a competitor to radio" (Pandora). And there is some posturing in the mobile area and the use of social networks. Only, to paraphrase a famous Wendy's campaign, "Where's the beef?"
While there appears to be a long list of topics scheduled at "RadioShow" (agenda
), it still lacks a session on understanding how to pull together the data needed to explain digital audiences and advertising response. One panel is approaching this topic at the RAIN Summit today:
"Sizing Up Your Audience
" but, from its description, it seems only an overview discussing methodologies.
The brakes need to be applied so the radio industry can take one aspect of this new digital world and master it, then
move on to the next. If there's anyone, or any company, that's already accomplished this, please bring it to my attention, as it hasn't been written about in any radio trade publications.
For an example of how everyone goes gaga over whatever is deemed "new" without really understanding what it is they are looking at, glance at Triton Digital's "Webcast Metrics" July posting
(Monday through Friday Average - 6:00am to 8:00pm). Nearly all radio industry publications wrote about these "rankings." Did any understand what they were looking at?
In the July released numbers, did anyone catch that 9 radio groups showed more "domestic" listening than they did "all streams" listening? It's difficult to understand how ESPN can have 15,318 domestic "Average Active Sessions" while there are 14,814 listening to "All Streams." (I've contacted the company and am waiting for an explanation. Will keep you posted.)
Before anyone gets ahead of themselves with proclamations that the radio industry is ready to duel in this new age of new media, radio needs to get the full grasp of a single element within. Which, so far, it does not have.
There should be a session at the "RadioShow" which defines accountability for ROI in the same way that an analytic expert defines it. How about offering a session on designing an on-air contest utilizing email campaigns, so the numbers captured mean more than "a whole lot of folks entered"?
Another session which doesn't exist (but should) is on how to use a radio station's web site as an adjunct to over-the-air programming and commercials, and then quantify results. Or, what about explaining that a "podcast" is not a downloadable program - it's a recorded program that utilizes "Really Simple Syndication" (RSS) for distribution.
Until one of these items is mastered, none will help anyone at "RadioShow." Instead, the radio industry will continue to bounce from one new media toy to the next.
Yes, it's off to Chicago. Let's hope we'll soon read about a concept that was learned at this gathering of experts and then successfully implemented. We've not seen that story printed anywhere, in any year, yet.
In the vernacular of the "RadioShow" ad at RAB.com
(BTW which still contains a dead-link), their show is:
"On-Air. Online. On Target." I'm just not sure what that means.
We're so busy moving forward that nobody seems to understand where we're at.