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RAIN 4/27: Digital radio ads' "wonderful burden" examined at RAIN Summit West

Posted on: 04/27/2011


“There’s something out of whack,” began Michael Theodore of the IAB, moderator of the “Digital Face-Off” panel at RAIN Summit West. He showed how there’s traditionally an overspend in TV ads, but an underspend in Internet and radio. “Digital radio has the wonderful burden of combining the disadvantage of radio with the disadvantage of the Internet.”

By the end of the panel, it was clear the problem lies in the differences between the radio and Internet platforms — especially where ads are concerned.

“It’s a completely different medium,” said ad agency NorBella’s Steph Herget about Internet radio. She argued AM/FM ads should not just be “repurposed” for webcasts. NorBella aims for more creative soultions. “How can our brand take over your player…how can it integrate?”

Taylor F. Wood of GroupM agreed, saying that online radio is “a more clean, pristine environment” with “shorter and fewer” advertisements. The audience expects a different ad experience than AM/FM.

But that leads to problems when selling ads, as radio is essentially “dealing with two different platforms at the same time,” as Theodore said, or “tapping into two buckets,” as said Jeffrey Wolinsky of WTOP — the nation’s top billing radio station in 2010.

Those two buckets are difficult to merge for buyers. “You could blame Arbitron,” said Wolinsky. He hopes for “a way to measure the online and terrestrial [audiences] in a way that the buyer could evaluate them together.” But right now, there are different very different systems from Abritron and Triton Digital’s Ando Media (that may change soon, see our story below).

Another issue is education, said panelists. Sellers need to learn what they’re selling and what the possibilities are for Internet radio, so they can in turn inform the buyers and help them devise creative (and effective) campaigns.

Indeed, Erik Carlson of Katz 360 explained that when they work with clients to build creative online campaigns that go beyond banners and spots, they yield “great results” (for more on this topic, see our coverage of TargetSpot’s study also presented at RAIN Summit West here).

In the end, radio and the Internet are two very different platforms. Sellers, buyers, measurement companies, or all three may need to step up and bridge the gap. Or, as Wood argued, it may be terrestrial radio as a whole that “needs to adapt to survive in the digital world.”

The panel was assembled by Triton Digital. Thank you to them and to all the panelists.


MOG has revealed plans to launch a freemium service — a limited free on-demand music service similar to Spotify — while also landing on LG Blu-ray and home theater systems.

MOG CEO David Hyman announced that the freemium service will arrive within two months. It will resemble Spotify, in that users will have a monthly listening cap beyond which they must pay a monthly subscription fee. Spotify’s monthly cap is 10 hours, but Hyman said MOG’s will be lower “in order to generate a higher return-on-investment,” reports Elliot Van Buskirk in Evolver.fm (here). MOG currently offers a 14-day free trial but requires users to enter a credit card first.

Meanwhile, MOG is bringing its service to LG’s Smart TV platform for Blu-ray and home theater systems. Ubergizmo has more on MOG’s new offering, including a list of supported devices, here.


Arbitron has signaled its interest in measuring Internet radio listening, both in what its said (here) and done (here). Now CEO Bill Kerr tells investors that the company is “developing a total radio service, which would integrate Arbitron’s established radio ratings with the new digital platforms to provide a total audience metric…we are working to add Internet and mobile measurement to a subset of our PPM panels.”

Meanwhile, Triton Digital is planning to expand its Internet radio measurement service “to break out listening by device type, geo-location, demographics and behavioral attitudes,” reports Inside Radio. Overall, the publication reports that the service is “attracting more ad agency attention after receiving MRC accreditation” (RAIN coverage here). You can read more by subscribing to Inside Radio here.

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  1. Concerning the article, Digital radio ads’ “wonderful burden”, it looks like that conversation was geared toward the wrong direction. That’s like taking horses and the Model-T and saying, “How can we integrate these platforms?” You can’t, unless you design a ‘third’ hybrid platform. But even though that third platform may detail the combined media accurately, it cannot create a true integration.

    The key here, is that traditional media is based on sampling, and digital media is an exact measurement. Integrating them only makes ‘both’ less accurate. Smart panel, wrong direction.

    Bill Wilkins, CEO
    Melted Metal Web Radio
    Network Noir Web Radio

    Bill Wilkins · Apr 27, 09:08 AM · #

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