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Thursday, December 27, 2012
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Traffic Reports Online - Don't Laugh


(Publisher's Note: The following appeared at Audio Graphics on December 17, 2004.)




O.K., so radio trades have the industry dripping a little sweat with the thought that a satellite company is delivering traffic reports. That's nothing, compared with the potentially harmful effect on radio's audience that displaying traffic information on Yahoo! brings.

Local traffic information is now available for 70 locations at Yahoo!, meaning someone leaving the office can do a click, view, then connect the MP3 player in the car. In this case, those thinking "that's no big thing" shows how it's a lot like it used to be.

"Mr. Saperstein was talking the future to people who were watching their backs, and it was a tough sell." In the early eighties I worked with David Saperstein, helping to establish traffic reports in a non-traffic report world. To say it was like pulling whale's teeth is not an understatement.

Radio station managers in music formatted stations couldn't see the connection between airing traffic reports and an audience that could respond immediately.

Talking with agencies and advertisers proved even less fruitful with a refrain that sounded something like this, "What am I supposed to do with a ten-second commercial?" Mr. Saperstein was talking the future to people who were watching their backs, and it was a tough sell.

Twenty years later, talking about the left lane being blocked is a mainstay in programming. Clear Channel also has an all-out effort to convince advertisers less time used in a commercial is better for them and the audience.

As for the traffic maps online, color-coded symbols will indicate tie-ups, traffic speeds, and road work in the Yahoo! system. That's similar to what was done when traffic reports were first brought to television, using a CD technology that was very advanced for the day. Suffice it to say that early television traffic reports came off an album-sized disk embedded with maps. The operating systems were contained in Apple IIe computers used to drive the arrows and other color-coded symbols. Arrows and color coded symbols are all you need to get the point across.

So keep this in mind as Yahoo! launches a local traffic service: You may chuckle, thinking who's going to go online for traffic? But that smile will fade when you realize that checking the route home is quick - especially when it's bookmarked. [read: App]




Quotes from Ken. Year, 2004:
Online radio is being used by millions. Don't ignore it. It won't go away.
It's going to take more than the online radio industry is delivering
to get on the radar screen of media buyers.
Broadcast radio is giving media buyers reason to try other forms of
advertising, at the same time those buyers begin to see the benefits
of placing dollars online. Something's gotta give.
Ten years from now folks will look back on Apple's introduction of
the iPod converter for BMW cars as the focal point when MP3 music
began its mobile climb.
We're beginning to see the Internet chase local ad dollars.
Listened to your station lately? Anything appearing on air
that's triggering a "theater of the mind" in yours?
So far there's no mention of improving the programming
surrounding the commercial breaks. That will take money
- to hire back talent let go during consolidation.
If hardware is made available to plug cellphones into car radios,
look for a youthful generation to jump there instead of SatRad.
RAB2004 got underway yesterday. This Dallas gathering
of radio execs goes through Sunday, with too many seminars
to count. Unfortunately, only one has anything to do with
the Internet.



Have a safe and merry holiday.

Ken Dardis
















From the Archive:
Audio Graphics Report - circa 2005

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