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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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Change, In Ways Radio Doesn't Understand

There's one constant about the radio industry - its visionaries are myopic. Want to know what they are thinking on any given day? Just turn to a radio trade publication. Nearly all run the same stories. Extremely few of the stories revolve around product improvement or change. Today it's mostly talk of stations turning to all Christmas music and/or the announcement of someone being handed more responsibility guised as a "promotion."

Windows 8 Dashboard in readwrite article
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Seldom is there mention of the multitude of disciplines the radio industry needs to familiarize itself with to be competitive in the onrushing new world of audio. Data about audience, response and sales is becoming an expected aspect of advertising buys.

What radio types appear to overlook most is how the dashboard is getting a makeover, and the center-top position (where radio sat for over 60 years) is changing.

One topic we've seen for a few weeks now is the performance royalty issue. I can't describe it better than Paul Maloney at RAIN, so read his assessment of the latest foible. Had the broadcast industry gotten involved with this topic when first asked (in 1998), it would not be an issue today.

Going back to the late 1990s brings one name into the picture that everyone recognizes, Mark Cuban. His shook the radio industry between 1997-98, before Yahoo paid him over $3 Billion for it and stations recognized it as an advertising funnel back to Cuban.

As a BTW: Mark Cuban is going full-force against Facebook, for very good reasons. Glance at this "readwrite" article to see why putting effort into Facebook is another misstep for the radio industry. As in previous times when I've warned of Facebook being a human resource drain, Mark Cuban's comments emphasize the "WTF" (Worth to Facebook) factor.

How is it that the radio industry remains stuck in the "radio didn't die with the 8-track or cassette" syndrome? It's "myopia of the masses," a malady sweeping radio's executive suites. The lack of reporting by radio trades of the true strength of this digital revolution is another factor. Misreporting of facts is yet another prominent practice that's done the radio industry harm.

Here's a fact that radio better not ignore much longer. According to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and data management firm Winterberry Group, ClickZ reports: "77% of Businesses Say DMPs Will Play Important Role in Expanding Ad Efforts." DMP is data management platforms. If the radio industry wishes to remain relevant to advertisers, it needs to get a handle on how to produce the data which these platforms manage.

One particular irritant to me is how people write about a definitive online radio environment using only Triton Digital Webcast Metrics as basis for their claims. This is akin to using Lake Erie as a basis for describing the world's oceans. You cannot come to any conclusions about the totality of online radio/audio listenership through Webcast Metric's numbers alone. You can compare its clients competitiveness, but that's all this report lets you do.

Have you heard of "Radionomy"? How about "Live365," or "Shoutcast," or "MyRadio"? There are more than a dozen of these companies that allow the average person to create a radio station online or use the internet to deliver audio programming. Some content is local, some irrelevant, some garbled audio in no particular order - but all have listeners which used to tune in to broadcast radio. And not one appears in the Webcast Metrics' rankings, though a few of them challenge Clear Channel's Average Active Sessions.

Myopic! Broadcast-only radio is not the only listening pleasure on the block anymore. If we keep hearing radio industry execs claiming "Radio on the internet isnít Radio, itís audio. Only terrestrial Radio is Radio!" (as one RBR article cites), what's going to be said when our traditional in-car tuner on the dashboard goes the way of the Dodo (within 10 years)? "The industry needs to stop patting its leaders on the back with gratuitous gestures of praise every time a bad storm rolls around."

Radio has changed. The industry needs to stop patting its leaders on the back with gratuitous gestures of praise every time a bad storm rolls around. Radio industry executives need to learn the importance of spreadsheets, other than as they apply to cutting expense.

Advertisers seek data today, from media that understand how it's managed.

Through 2005 it was a broadcast-only league for those playing in the radio industry. Today there are dozens-upon-dozens of choices handed to consumers and advertisers.

Remaining staunch with a "Walkman didn't kill radio" attitude is more dangerous than ever.

For the radio industry to regain growth, it needs to open up to the possibilities of doing business on multiple levels in a far more competitive arena. Want a glance? Search Google Images for "car entertainment systems."

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