Experts Challenge Old Thinking

Revenues are shaky. So where are all the advertisers spending their dollars? Gordon Borrell, of Borrell Associates, which researches local radio markets, will tackle that question during two sessions today. And his answers may upset some conventional wisdom.
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Revenues are shaky. So where are all the advertisers spending their dollars?

Gordon Borrell, of Borrell Associates, which researches local radio markets, will tackle that question during two sessions today. And his answers may upset some conventional wisdom.

“People are not going to the Internet for local news,” he said, attacking a radio Web site staple. “They go on for something far more lucrative, and that’s that they go online to do research before a major purchase.”

Borrell will present evidence and examples at the session, “The $13 Billion Opportunity in Local Revenue,” 1 p.m.

“The online opportunity is much larger, vastly larger, than what radio operators think, and I will show some real numbers for this,” he said.

Also, convergence sales have never worked, and he thinks radio stations have done a poor job cross-training reps to be online sales reps, he said; mainly, what they do is divert money away from the radio operation. Stations need dedicated online sales reps, and Borrell said he has the numbers to prove it.

Online ad sales passed radio sales last year, and in three years will surpass spending in newspapers, he said.

So what’s the answer? Radio stations need to think fresh, Borrell said.

“They have to evolve from just a TV-radio site and seize the opportunity.”

After the $13 billion question, Borrell will join moderator Sally Beamer, of Creative Resources, in the session “Thrive, Don’t Just Survive in a Multi-Platform World,” 2:15 p.m. They’ll flesh out some of the ideas raised in the morning.

Beamer spends much of her time training sales staffs and broadcast managers to think big. Sure, a lot of broadcasters understand that the Internet exists, she said; they get Web sites; and they dabble.

“They believe in it, but they haven’t really put the kind of effort in to it that is warranted,” she said.

She plans on getting the other panelists — Rick Jackson of Greater Media Charlotte; and Thomas Manning of Beasley Broadcasting Miami — to be more specific.

“If that money is really there, how do I build a plan? How do I build a business model?” Beamer said. “If I’m dabbling, what can I do differently in order to really get into the business?”

Instead of the Web just being another initiative, another event, broadcasters need to create a brand, a business model, a product, a plan — say, hawking restaurant reviews or real estate, to engage the audience and stay ahead.

In today’s media world, Beamer said, everyone can do what everybody else does. So to create demand, sales people need to talk to the client about what the client wants to happen, coalesce all the opportunities around a custom marketing idea.

“Clients want ideas that surround the target consumer in messaging that meets them at multiple touchpoints,” she said. It’s not enough just to be on radio and TV and even the Web; you have to be at events, in the community, and more.

©NAB

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