Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Rebuilding Radio's Advertising Potential

After signing up for a daily Ad Age newsletter I started getting the weekly Ad Age magazine for some promotional reason.  Was roaming through it over breakfast this morning for their Super Bowl wrap up coverage, which was very interesting.   

One thing stood out - Full Page ads for both Val Pak and Newspapers posted above (sorry they didn't all scan in, but you get the picture here).   

We have 2 older type advertising media here.  The Cox owned Val Pak direct mail service, which Cox is trying to sell along with a few newspapers.  And one from the Newspaper Project, an industry alliance to help their cause.   

2 media that are way behind radio in reaching the masses.   While Val Pak is in many markets they don't have full coverage and still rely on the mail box - a tough delivery system.  Newspapers are falling in their reach and while they claim 100 million readers here - radio reaches over 230 million people 12 plus in a week according to the latest Arbitron estimates (mostly done with diaries - imagine what it will be with PPM in the top 30 markets). 

Looking at a number of Ad Age issues I only caught 3 radio ads or campaigns in the last 6 months.   1 came from SBS - Spanish Broadcasting - with a small ad in a special Hispanic section Ad Age did.   Another came from Entercom who ran a very nice full page ad that explained their properties and reach.  The only RAB ad was for their 'radio coverage' of the Ad Week convention last September.  It didn't talk about radio or any of our advantages, just that they had some kind of radio system set up to deliver podcasts and to broadcast live updates at the convention.  Gee - that really helps sell the media, we can talk about the latest Google marketing system or maybe cover the conference on the latest way to reach people on the web. 

While Ad Age may not be the best vehicle to promote our potential to market stuff to our huge audience what kind of effort are we really making here?   It's one thing to offer lots of sales training and come up with a few buttons that say Radio Heard Here.   It's another to rebuild the image of Radio as a media that reaches nearly the whole country on a local level with very affordable programs.  

We need to 'fly the flag' a lot more for our industry.  If you look through Ad Age's articles only one showed up on some form of radio - Did Mel Pay Too Much For Howard.   Even Ad Age seems to have forgotten all about our Cinderella story.   Maybe it's time to hitch up the pumpkin coach, get all dressed up and hit the ball.   I bet if we spent just 1/2 of the money spent in Washington trying to push for more consolidation on some public relations and selling our advantages we could have weathered this storm a lot better.    Radio could have the image as an efficient, huge reach, and economical way to market products.   Just the tool to un-freeze the customer without killing your budget.   


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Jonah said...

Dave, I'm obviously biased, but I don't know why Ad Age is a bad place to put radio ads -- we have the largest number of marketers and media agencies as readers of any single publication both in print and online, and we are the most trusted source of media and marketing news according to just about any measure you use. Secondly we've written quite a lot about radio in the last year, and have stepped up our radio coverage with every passing year for the last four years. Thirdly, I would say the RAB is starting to work harder at marketing the radio business, both in terms of advertising and PR. Finally, anytime you think you spot an interesting story in radio that would have implications for a broad swathe of our audience, I'd be interested to hear it - email me at, or Andrew Hampp, our radio reporter, at

Dave Lange said...

Jonah - Perhaps I didn't make my point too well. I was trying to say that radio NEEDS TO USE publications like AD Age more to promote itself to agencies and advertisers. I think your team does a great job covering advertising and there is a ton to learn for the radio industry here. I sense we spend too much time with our trades (Inside Radio, Radio and Records - etc) which are mostly gossip and product tips. Ad Age is about what our clients are doing - a stronger focus here would no doubt bring in more business.

Thanks for the input