Monday, February 12, 2007

Guest comments

This week we have a guest comment from Lou Mazz - and later in the week check in as we break down the Fall 06 Arbitrons for rock across the nation.

Thanks Lou for the comments.

I was reading some of Dave Lange's comments about programming myths,
and it got me thinking.

This is always dangerous.

When I was a pup (and transmitters had spark gaps), we did free-form rock with no
playlist (we could pull from 10,000 LPs) and a simple clock: legal ID on the hour and
a network news feed at :15. All us found ouselves mostly playing 3 or 4 song sets
because otherwise the back-annoucing would get annoying. But, when the time was
right, we could rip into a longer set as long as we covered the spot load (which was
maybe 6 or 8 minutes an hour, not 10). But regardless, we tended to cluster the spots
into stop sets, as is common practice today.

As Dave points out, when iPods and their ilk are everywhere, anyone who wants long
stretches of commercial-free music can get it. So is it really sensable to try to compete
with that when the result is even larger spot clusters? But what's the alternative?
Folks in the video part of the spectrum are playing with 15-second, 10-second and
even 5-second ads as an alternative to traditional 30s and 60s. It is generally easier
to stitch these short ads into audio than video - and it offers up some interesting
wrinkles that could be added to a rate card. For instance - why not sell a "mini set" of
three songs with two 10-second bookends and two 5-second interstitials? You could
chage a premium over a standard :30 because you'd be selling separate impressions,
tied together. This would probably work best for image messaging as opposed to
a specific promotion, where you want to pack all of the relevent info into one burst.
And since I'm borrrowing from TV, let's keep going. Integrate contests into ads. Produce
several variants of a spot and give a prize away to the listener who identifies the correct
version you just played. This would help fight tuneout, offer an additional up-sell to
an advertiser (either on the rate card or in trade), and provide some interesting (and
probably much-needed) creative fodder for your production folks.

I can imagine both of these concepts being executed horribly or being overused,
giving us the aural equivalent of ads on eggs or on the bottom of airport security trays.
But done right, it could be an important part of making "advertainment", which will be a
key to the next phase of commercial radio, regardless of format.
Yours in commerce,
Lou Mazz