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AG News: 9/14/2007

The NAB Radio Show - Understanding What's Ahead

There are twenty-five lines on my wish list of sessions to attend at the upcoming NAB Radio Show. Set for September 25-28 in Charlotte NC, NAB's Fall 2007 lineup of New Media and internet speakers indicates the radio industry is finally ready to tackle the big question: How do I step on a moving train?

Never before has so much time at a radio industry convention been devoted to explaining the ins and outs of the internet as it relates to the radio industry. This brings to mind a question I continually asked myself during the fifteen years I spent as an air personality: "I only have six minutes of open mike time this hour; will I sound like a pro or an idiot?" I'm wondering which it will be for the radio industry after giving this series of seminars.

In February of this year, after attending RAB 2007, I commented that ""RAB 2007 Will Move Radio Industry Forward." Today I'm changing that observation to say that RAB 2007 was just another exercise in rallying the troops.

My fear as we approach The NAB Radio Show is that it will again resemble a series of cheerleading sessions that do not take into consideration the expense of being successful online. (Full February article, here.)

Of the 25 "wish list" sessions I've marked down to attend Sept. 25-28, 8 deal directly with radio and the internet. Some indicate they will help radio broadcasters better understand how putting their stream online is the future. One specifically states it will address "Staying Relevant In The Digital Age."

None, through title or description, says it will speak about the costs involved to accomplish the goal - be it money or manpower. None, through T or D, says that it'll explain how to quantify this new internet radio audience to advertisers. These two points are where I've had great concern for years.

As VP of Marketing for Spacial Audio Solutions, a leading worldwide provider of audio software and stream hosting services, I'm seeing a void in the radio convention world that leaves many questions unanswered about moving online. How do I interpret log server data or stats from my analytics program? Should I reduce rates to compensate for out-of-country listeners that I'm including as "audience" in my sales pitch? What does it take to integrate a software system that allows for multiple advertising sources to be inserted into my stream - therefore, expanding my revenue potential? And, maybe the most important question of all: What's my incentive to build an online audience when the bigger it gets, the more it costs?

In the rush to find alternative cash to offset declines in local and national buys, radio managers are stepping into unknown areas of internet metrics and product packaging that are not being addressed at NAB's Radio Show.

Banner ads on your station web site are not the answer. Neither is geo-targeting until you have the established database.

Swaying media buyers into believing an audio ad run on the internet is just as valuable as an audio ad run on a local station - or network - is what will generate increases in internet revenue for radio. But, you'll not find any mention of this in the agenda for what's coming up in Charlotte.

If you find yourself asking the same type of questions, I'd be glad to sit with you at NAB's Radio Show and get into the details of problems not addressed there. Just click here, and we can schedule a time to meet. (Click quick, though. My calendar is filling up fast.)

We're watching a changing radio industry that's fighting battles on many fronts, which include eroding TSL, youth finding alternative audio, advertisers looking elsewhere, etc. And, as in any war, intelligence is worth far more than a wagon load of weapons.

THE NAB Radio Show 2007 does give direction. It's just that the map it's handing out lacks naming the many roads you need to travel in this journey through change. Give me a half-hour and we'll put the Post-its in place, scribbling notes along the way.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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