Since the beginning of radio time, the debate over commercials and where to place them in an hour has raged on. These days, most stations simply cram their inventory into two long stopsets, usually occupying the “bowtime” positions on the clock.
From the listener point of view, this is not the ideal way of handling the commercial load. Not only are breaks often excessively long, but in many markets, most stations burn off their spots at the exact same time. In short, it makes for a bad UX – or User Experience.
Very few stations have actively attempted to reverse this course. With a few exceptions – KNDD’s (Entercom/Seattle) “Two Minute Promise” comes to mind – most broadcasters hold their nose and keep pouring the commercials on, one on top of the other, despite their negative impact on listener satisfaction.
In our most recent Techsurvey, it turns out that about one in ten consumers says they’ve been listening to less radio in the past year. The chief culprit? “Too many commercials” is in the lead. In fact, complaints about spot loads outstrip streaming, SiriusXM, and mobile apps – all a significant distance behind.
And this problem isn’t exclusive to legacy media like radio or TV. The interactive advertising world finds itself in much the same boat, trying to come up with more palatable ways to expose consumers to commercials as painlessly – yet as effectively – as possible.
Now AdWeek’s Christopher Heine reports the trend for 2018 will be 6-second ads. (Remember “blinks?”)
Like the 140 character limit on Twitter, TWBA Worldwide’s Theodor Arhio says these quickie spots “force you to be more focused.”
Below is an example of what this looks like. It’s a 6-second video from Maud Deitch called “High Diver.” It’s quick, so pay attention or you’ll miss it.
These ads, often referred to as “snackable content,” are predicted to become the big thing next year, largely because they will be more palatable than :15s or :30s to perhaps their most important viewers – Millennials.
Not to be outdone, Spotify is going a different route. Realizing there’s only so much revenue in subscriptions, the Swedish based streaming giant is looking for new ways to monetize its service. In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal by Alexandra Bruell, Spotify’s head of marketing, Seth Farbman, talked about new revenue streams, especially given the travails of traditional media – like radio.
Spotify’s answer? Sponsored segments.
They’re in the process of testing different ad schemes, focusing on original content with sponsorships attached.
Here’s Farbman’s “take” on Spotify’s most popular advertising unit:
“I think it’s still sponsored sessions – this half hour brought to you by (an advertiser). We don’t want to hit you with like 90 ads like radio does. Increasingly, we’re doing things like sponsored playlists, and some of the original content we create we have sponsored by brands.”
Like the podcasting world – fewer ads often read by the podcaster herself – is the trend as the media world moves away from clusters of spots. While the new media players are gravitating to “snackable content,” radio continues to rely on “stackable content” – one commercial after another after another.
Innovation isn’t just about programming and content. Creativity around the sales model would be a welcome topic inside most radio companies. Here at The Radio Show in Austin, there are sessions and panels about connected cars, smart speakers, podcasts, drones, and apps. But no one’s talking about the commercial conundrum. At some point, radio sales organizations will have to come to grips with learning how to sell different advertising models.
While operators like Pandora co-opted radio sellers and sales techniques in the early years, maybe it’s radio that steals a page from companies like Spotify by testing shorter, sponsored models that are ultimately better for advertisers – and listeners.
Less is more. Now we have to figure out how to sell it.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.