You can’t make me!

“You can’t make me!” – this is the mantra of the New Radio listener.  In the good old days of Radio, you were the only choice in town – the smaller the market, the more true this was.   The internet has changed all the rules, and the next huge step is about to unfold.

Analog TV is gone.  Comcast (Clearwire) is now rolling out WiMax in wide distribution around the country.  AT&T isn’t far behind with their own 4G wireless broadband.

If you thought Sirius/XM was bad karma, you ain’t seen nothing yet.   For a relatively nominal charge, the Comcast user can now have full time 4 Mb/sec wireless internet access *anywhere*, including driving in their car.   That will allow a person to be able to tune to any of the 1000s of streams on the internet while driving in their car, as easy as they do today with regular radio.

iHeartRadio was telegraphing that Clear Channel sees the next step in this journey.  Clear Channel is no longer a radio company, they are a programming distribution company, with radio as one of the delivery platforms (the least capable one).

When the listener can control what they listen to – on their nightstand, in their car,  in their mp3 player, you can’t “force feed” people things they don’t want because you paid the FCC a big pile of money for a license.

I responded recently to a question about annoying PSAs, and it is one of my biggest complaints about radio.  Some of them seem to be designed specifically to chase off listeners (running anti-racial discrimination ads directly implying that the listener is a racist – during say Rush Limbaugh’s show)…  Most are appealing to either fear about something terrible that could happen or promoting some aspect to further empower the Federal Government.

Here is a bold new idea – let your listeners pick your commercials.  Music stations go through the pretense of creating “Music Advisory Boards”, which in theory get to “pick” the music that plays on “their” station.

Let’s apply that principle to PSAs and commercials.   Each new ad or PSA that the sales guy/gal wants to push onto the air has to make it past the Commercial Advisory Board, which will rate the ad based on relevance, entertainment value, likelihood they would do something after hearing it, etc…   How much the sponsor is willing to pay is not a factor.

Giving ads that people *want* to hear will give astonishing response rates.  Force feeding irrelevant ads up until the moment that scientific testing says is the “point at which people turn the channel” creates permanent listener loss, not just “for today”.  Listeners have choice – you can’t abuse them.

When the salesman finds out he can’t get that ad on for erectile dysfunction or laxatives no matter how much he pleads, he’ll stop wasting his/her time soliciting ads from businesses their listeners don’t have any interest in.

The listener is now your customer, not your advertisers.  Keep the listeners happy, and filling up the ad inventory will take care of itself.  Wake up and drink  the coffee.  The ticking clock is not your friend.

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5 Responses to You can’t make me!

  1. I’ve wondered if the steady diet of (to me) obnoxious PSAs, is an attempt to use the income from PSAs to influence a station’s content, accomplished by the government threating withdrawal of that income stream.

    • Art Stone says:

      I have the same question… I’ve asked several people in the radio business if the stations are being paid for PSAs or if they are just earning “public service brownie points” with the FCC by running them. The National Ad Council web site says a lot of things, but it wasn’t clear to me how this all actually works. A large portion of it is clearly promoting left-wing NGO (Non Governmental Organization” lobbying activities

  2. Mike says:

    I like the concept, but the practicality does not sink in with me.
    The whole reason for advertising or PSAs is that some business or gov’t agency wants to change your behavior and/or spending habits.
    If your ads are for products in which you are already interested, or PSAs for topics you already believe in then you aren’t really the target audience of the message anyhow.
    For example if you were a ‘green’ hippie save the planet type, what’s the point of trying to talk you into thinking polar bears are extinct from global warming again?

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