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RAIN 1/26: Google to maintain radio sales, experts chime in

Posted on: 01/26/2009


Following up last week’s news that Google is giving up on its print ad sales business (RAIN coverage here), a story in ClickZ (that’s here) indicates that Google isn’t yet giving up on its radio sales platform.

Industry vet and Audio4Cast publisher Jennifer Lane thinks slim local sales will help Google get inventory from stations to sell. “The question is whether or not they’ll be able to sell it,” she told ClickZ. One problem is that traditional Google AdWords customers might miss the accountability of online when they advertise on the radio. Foneshow’s Erik Schwartz, in a post for his company’s blog (here), wrote, “This is the fundamental mismatch between Google and both the newspaper and radio industries.” Targeting ads is tougher for radio too. “It’s impossible for radio ads to have the ability to do what is the key feature of AdWords,” Kurt Hanson, AccuRadio CEO and RAIN publisher, told ClickZ.

According to Schwartz, there are two major problems old media must tackle to successfully evolve online: (1) leveraging “core competencies” to the new distribution platform to attract audience, and (2) effectively monetizing that traffic. Radio, he writes, is “far behind the newspapers in leveraging their core competence to a new distribution channel.” Yet even if they catch up, both old media have the second problem to deal with, and the “old style” of advertising isn’t going to cut it.

“Listeners are moving online and to mobile, but the types of ad units that are effective in a linear broadcasting environment are
not effective in an interactive narrowcast world,” he writes. “Monetization techniques do not always transfer from one channel to another. It’s easy to end up with a meatball sundae."


An article in the Buffalo News reveals that local radio — as well as Internet radio — is still instrumental for artists looking to get the attention of local audiences. While the tendency for commercial radio has been to avoid untested, local music, “a few radio stations have bucked the trend, and along with their embrace of online broadcasting and Internet technologies, helped open up opportunities for local musical talent to find their audiences.” WBFO offers archived episodes of its “Buffalo Avenues,” which features music and interviews with local acts, on its site. On Wednesdays it broadcasts live concert performances by local talent, and makes available online video of the shows. Buck Quigley, frontman for Buffalo’s the Steam Donkeys, told the paper, “How do you let the world know you have a MySpace page? That’s the unique sort of niche that radio still has.” Local artist Peter Vullo got exposure on ThinkTwiceRadio.com, a Buffalo-centric Internet radio site. “I did an hour performance and interview for Think Twice Radio, and that really opened doors,” Vullo told the paper. And when Buffalo music foundation Music Is Art staged a festival, executive coordinator Tod Knaziuk began his research at WBFO’s site, and its Wednesday night concert podcasts.


In his blog, iBiquity’s Bob Struble writes that one of his big take-aways from CES this year was the amount of “new internet radios, devices which look and act like regular radios, but use WiFi networks to tune in thousands of internet stations.” Another conclusion was that “a truly mobile internet, using a variety of existing and planned high speed networks and devices is being worked on by major carriers and handset, PC and receiver manufacturers. The day is not far away when an at home/at work internet experience will be available any place, any time.” He also notes that he “even saw one car stereo without AM/FM.” While this does not spell the end of AM/FM in Struble’s opinion, he does note that the competition “will not stop and likely intensify.” Read his entire blog post here.

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