“You’re Bigger Than Facebook!”

Advertiser Panel Also Says Radio Is “The Ultimate Mobile Media”

By Charlie Morgan, Emmis Indy Radio V.P. / Market Manager

Radio remains a remarkably powerful mass medium in a world filled with more choices and fragmenting audiences. 

That was the take-away message to the Radio Industry delivered by three of America’s biggest advertisers on a panel during a luncheon at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Dallas, TX this past autumn.

Reaching nearly a quarter of a billion Americans every week, Andrew Essex, CEO of the Creative Agency, ‘Droga5’ nearly came out of his chair, urging the radio broadcasters to understand their strength when he shouted, “You’re bigger than Facebook!”  While the popular press chases the latest high-tech fad, always writing about the “latest and greatest” radio remains relevant, while a mature industry, to over 90+% of the country every week.

Horizon Media’s CEO, Bill Koenigsberg reminded us all that advertisers are in the “engagement business” and in today’s multi-choice environment there are virtually no barriers to how an advertiser can attempt to reach and engage their targets.  Bill uses radio for many of his biggest clients because radio is “everywhere we go.  It is the ultimate mobile media!”  I loved that quote as all of the tech-press tells everyone that “mobile is where it’s at.”  Well what is more mobile than radio?  We’ve been in the car dash for decades.  We’ve been in earphones and boom boxes and now on cellphones and computers.  There is no medium that has mastered “mobility” better than radio.  

So why do some advertisers forget about the power of radio?  Often, it starts at the creative agency.  As Andrew said to the audience, when he is hiring a new creative to join his agency, they rarely say “let me play you my great radio reel!”  Creatives love the visual medium (and the money they can charge clients to produce television commercials) so radio is often overlooked. 

But, as Bill reminded us, creativity is more important than ever for a mature industry, as he challenged us to “reassert our domination!”  But we all hear “bad radio ads” every day.  Why is that?  They are vastly less expensive to produce than television so why are there so many “safe” ads?  Bob Fant from Metro PCS, one of the nation’s leading wireless companies says he knows who to blame.  The clients!  Fant said, “Most of the stuff that is out there and doesn’t engage the consumer emotionally and is just predictable and formulaic is the fault of an overly-cautious client.”

So what should you do?  I think the key takeaways for you to impact your business are these:

  • Engage your consumer.  Take advantage of ALL that radio can offer from on-air commercials, promotions, events, online audio and video and the power of the air personality to directly connect with their listener on your behalf.
  • Take time to really focus on the radio creative.  Push your agency or our creative department to deliver truly memorable radio ads.
  • Don’t get caught chasing the “latest and greatest” trend or fad, just because “Wired Magazine” had an article about it or it sounded cool.  You can experiment in new spaces to learn how they can add to your success, but don’t discount the power of a true “mass medium” in today’s highly fragmented world.
  • Is there a DJ or On-air Host that can passionately connect with their audience on your behalf?  Testimonials and endorsements from radio talent, whether on air, or on their Twitter or Facebook pages, can deliver results in such a personal and engaged way that no other medium can offer.