Scale. Storyteller. Relationships.

"Digital portable clock radio with red illuminated lcd display. Radio has a wooden body, metallic buttons and antenna. Isolated on white background."

These are the words that have been used to describe radio by some of the most widely recognized national brands and large advertising agencies.  During the 40th Annual Fall Broadcast Management Conference and the 16th Annual Power of Urban Radio Forum, speakers and panelists discussed radio’s strengths, future as well as what radio can do to help advertisers address their challenges.

Keynote speaker Mark LaNeve, VP, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service of Ford Motor Company shared insights into the company as well as their view on radio.  With the overall auto industry plateauing somewhere between 16MM to 17MM vehicles per year, Ford’s four key pillars or initiatives are: Quality (achieve world class quality and desirability), Green (providing efficiency and reducing it environmental footprint) , Safe (using technology that aids drivers and avoiding crashes) and Smart (using technology that enhances the driver experience).  While Ford’s core business will continue to be its automotive offerings, it is their Smart mobility initiatives that should help their core business in the future.

LaNeve mentioned that his biggest worry is about “selling stuff” and he needs to use media dollars that will also help build a brand.  Radio is “a story telling medium with great scale and local personalities that can engage fans,” stated LaNeve.  As an avid sports talk radio fan, he mentions how he knows the personalities of his favorite radio station and the flow of the show.  Noting that radio has 28% of media consumption, but receives only about 6% to 7% of ad dollars, he commented that radio’s “offline to online integration is a great story that needs to be told to advertisers.”

During the event, a panel comprised of ad agency representatives highlighted radio’s amazing ability to increase return on investments, the importance of relationships – both station/listener and stations/sellers and advertisers – and advice in how to grow radio’s share.

Moderated by Erica Farber, RAB president and CEO, the dialogue from the ad agency representatives was a lively conversation about radio’s unique story-telling traits and the importance of sharing data and insights regarding radio’s listening audience.

Jennifer Hungerbuhler, EVP, Managing Director, Local Video and Audio Investment, Amplifi US, Dentsu Aegis Network, suggested that the industry continue to use technology to help drive radio’s value proposition.  “Real data makes radio relevant”, she stated.  While programmatic can help automate the transaction other technology, such as NextRadio, provides her client with “real time attribution and real time measurement.”

While radio’s core business continues to be broadcast, Frank Friedman, EVP, Local Activation, Zenith Media suggested that the industry should also work on its digital/streaming platform as that is the fastest growing segment of the business.  Internally, they are discussing the differences in creative executions of broadcast versus streaming.  “We will always want and have the interaction with the personalities,” stated Friedman, “but streaming is the fastest way to grow.”  While also focusing on content, Tom Talbert, Managing Director, Media at Campbell Ewald noted that ROI is fundamental and connecting sales to schedule is important, but radio needs to share how audiences are driven to create social media action.  So what drives that?  “Across any channel, the thing that drives success is content.”

When posed the question of what broadcast radio stations and sellers should do, panelists suggested they should continue to do following:

  • The strength and benefits of radio is the content that is produced and the social media following of the station and personalities. This is something that needs to be continually shared and highlighted.
  • Building and fostering relationships is critical. Learn what the goals of the particular marketer and then share your story as it related to their business.
  • Read a lot and take advantage of all the information that is available to you via trades and industry associations.

The message is clear.  Radio is an incredible medium with unique attributes.  Radio, as both a medium and an industry, is strong with its scale, ability to create and foster relationships with its amazing story and storytelling capabilities.


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