We know the media business is at “a moment in time.” There’s change in the air, and for radio, it’s not just about the shifts that are taking place in station ownership, bankruptcies, and consolidation.
As spot revenue continues to flatten out and all attention turns to the digital ecosphere, broadcasters often struggle to get their arms around a new yardstick; a new set of metrics that threaten to destablize the industry’s financial model. But this same revolution measurement offers legacy media a chance to tell a richer, more robust story – if they can figure out how to tell it.
Our company has been involved in research during the past two years among advertisers. More often than not, they still appreciate traditional media but they desire a mix with digital. Problem is, they don’t always know precisely what “digital” is, how to buy it, analyze it, and apply it to their marketing efforts.
I thought of that the other day when one of those whacked-out “news stories” from the Onion showed up in my Twitter feed. Premised as the rationale for why it’s important to web publishers that users not just “like” their stories in social media, but actually click on links, the memo is loaded with trademark Onion snark. It was quite NSFW so with a little help from the Congressional redaction department, it appears below:
You can read it in its uncensored glory here.
The underlying message of this bit of Onion saracasm points to the falacy of digital advertisng. Is it more important to get a “click” than a “like?” If advertisers are honest with themselves, it’s about results: store traffic, butts in seats, and purchase behavior.
A century ago, merchant John Wanamaker uttered this famous phrase that has haunted marketers ever since:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Things haven’t changed all that much in the world of marketing – until now. There is a digital transition in motion truly becoming a rallying cry – among both agencies and radio broadcasters. The radio industry knows it must make the case the medium remains a viable, relevant, and effective marketing tool. Even a digital world.
It’s the new “A-word” – attribution.
And you hear it more and more in conversations about the efficacy of radio advertising in a world of adwords and search. Late last year, I was on a “connected car” panel in Los Angeles featuring two very wise digital mavens from radio’s two biggest companies – Entercom and iHeartMedia. Tim Murphy and Federico Garza were clear about how their respective organizations are actively working hard to identify tools that make a positive connection between radio advertising and consumer response – namely, sales.
In fact, we joked at the time that if the word “attribution” was a keyword in a drinking game, the entire room would have been hammered because the term was uttered again and again, particuarly in conjuntion with the future of the automotive industry. The vehicles that move us from Point A to Point B are rapidly becoming marketing engines that will help reinforce the link between marketing and action.
And it reminded me of our DASH conference back in November 2014. One of our special guests was Dave DiMeo, then head of Ford Direct, the marketing arm of the automaker that deploys co-op dollars to their thousands of car dealers around the country. The clip below was an epiphany to me at the time – as it was for most of the radio professionals in that Metro Detroit conference ballroom:
DiMeo’s big conclusion?
“I don’t want to pay for ears. I want to pay for actions.”
That’s the essence of radio’s dilemma – but it’s also an attribution opportunity. Yet, in order to make it a reality, the industry will not only have to develop credible tools that make these connections, it will have to wean radio reps off their default sales pitches: rankers and reach.
For advertisers, it is less and less about the dimensions of an audience, the number of “likes” or “retweets,” or the size of an email database.
It’s about results.
Radio is so locked into chasing diaries and meters or setting reach and frequency goals that the true goal of marketing has gotten lost in translation. A 40,000 person database is less important than indentifying and connecting with the 250 people in the metro who are in the market to buy a new car in 2018.
You’re going to hear the A-word – attribution – more and more in the coming months, quarters, and years. From the buyers and planners in big agencies to the owners of local nail salons and pizza joints, decision-makers will be increasingly loath to spending marketing dollars that reach undifferentiated listeners who may – or may not – make a purchase, walk into a showroom, or attend an event.
Right now, there are smart poeple working on attribution models for radio – tools that will help the industry connect the dots and provide proof positive that shows radio truly motivates action. Some products coming to market show a great deal of promise for making radio’s attirbution case.
Ad dollars, in fact, are moving to digital – especially social media and search. But credible data that help broadcasters prove theier point that traditional media – especially when melded with strong digital support – may be the most powerful tool of all.
Radio advertising can make a comeback, re-establishing its position as a reach medium that works. Even John Wanamaker would be impressed with where we’re headed.
It’s all about attribution.
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.