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‘High Tech; High Touch; High ROI’

The U.S. Army used to have a commercial with a closing line that went something like: “We get more done before breakfast than most people do all day.” Attendees to the Radio Advertising Bureau's annual conference, opening Feb. 8 in Dallas, might feel that way once they get to the event.

The U.S. Army used to have a commercial with a closing line that went something like: “We get more done before breakfast than most people do all day.” Attendees to the Radio Advertising Bureau’s annual conference, opening Feb. 8 in Dallas, might feel that way once they get to the event.

“I’m not sure I know of another conference in our industry where we have sessions that start as early as 6 o’clock in the morning,” said George Hyde, executive vice president for training and conferences. “And at our keynote breakfast we start serving breakfast at 7:30.” Exhibits open as early as 7 a.m.

He said it takes some full days for radio sales managers to keep up on everything that’s going on in the radio business.

“For our leadoff keynote, we have Dan Burrus, one of the most sought-after futurists, speaking about what’s in the future, what’s happening, how’s it going to affect us.

“For our second keynote, we have someone who controls one of the largest advertising budgets on earth, Betsy Lazar from General Motors. She’s going to talk about some of the things General Motors is up against as they try to get more consumers off the seats of their cars into General Motors’ cars.”

Rounding out the keynotes will be Jon Coleman from Coleman Insights, who has completed a study on how people react when spots come on the radio (“When the Spots Come On,” RW, Dec. 6), and Mercedes Ramirez Johnson, who survived a plane crash in the mountains of South America that killed all but four people on board.

According to RAB figures, U.S. commercial radio revenue was flat through most of 2006 compared to the year before. How to move that needle is likely to be among the topics of RAB’s new president and CEO, Jeff Haley, who will present a “State of the Industry” address at his first annual conference since replacing Gary Fries.


Show InfoWhat: RAB 2007

When: Feb. 8–11

Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas (Reunion Tower)

Who: Radio sales, management and leadership

How much: RAB Members $699, Others $999
Following the 2007 theme of “High Tech; High Touch; High ROI,” the conference has sessions addressing specific challenges radio faces now and in the years ahead.

Digital radio is one of the topics. “Over the long haul, HD Radio will offer new and innovative sales options to build business for our marketing partners, in addition to the well-publicized opportunities for new programming streams,” Hyde said. He feels it’s time to educate sales and other station personnel, as well as advertisers and the audience, of the promise of HD Radio. “There’s no reason to wait until it’s a matter of days or weeks away, until the guy across the street, your competitor is doing something with it.”

The convention will include sessions focusing on issue and opportunities for stations marketing to Hispanic and urban audiences. “There will be information that’s literally ‘hot off the press’ revealing some fascinating information from the Radio Advertising Effectiveness Lab regarding higher levels of receptivity to radio advertising on the part of these audiences,” said Hyde.

Non-traditional revenue is an annual issue at RAB conventions, and will be center-stage again. “Frankly, I think we’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to the potential of non-traditional revenue, and that it’s far from being maximized,” said Hyde.

“Through much of the last year, the RAB revenue reports have shown non-traditional revenue to be growing at a faster pace, and that will happen as long as there are creative thinkers in radio.” Non-spot revenue grew 10 percent in the first 11 months of 2006 compared to the same period a year before, outpacing the more traditional radio ad categories, RAB reported.

Another session of note, Hyde said, is “The Dr. Phil Solution to NTR,” featuring RAB’s NTR director, Brandeis Hall, and Elaine Clark of Revenue Development Systems. “Other sessions feature acknowledged business-development experts like Sheila Kirby [of Interep] and Sylvia Allen [Allen Consulting], as well as new names and faces bringing new ideas to the conference.”

Early exhibits

No place is radio seeing more of a double-edged sword than in the area of electronic audience measurement, as it raises new sales issues but also opens new doors.

Addressing the topic of “Selling in a World of Electronic Measurement” is Charlie Sislen of Research Director Inc. “He’ll do a great job of explaining not only what the changes mean, but also what stations can do to prepare for the changes, and take advantage of them when they happen,” said Hyde.

“It’s also worth noting that we have a large group of exhibitors who provide hardware, software and other services to our member companies.” Exhibit hours on Thursday are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, exhibits are open 7 to 10 a.m. and again noon to 6 p.m.

Another arena that offers challenges and opportunities to radio is the Internet. “The fact that we have a number of sessions exploring the digital sales future, including the Internet, indicates that there’s more than just one way to be successful in developing synergies between radio stations and the Internet,” said Hyde. He said RAB will present a half-dozen sessions on the subject. “It’ll be a full smorgasbord for anyone who’s interested in this area.”

RAB will also provide opportunities for networking at various receptions and get-togethers.