by Eric Rhoads
Spreading Radio Fires
What's Looming For Radio
As I sit behind my desk, I can smell and see the distant smoke of nearby wildfires. The fires are only about 10 miles away, yet I sit here smugly and safely, with a sense of confidence that someone will get those fires under control and they won't spread to my neighborhood. Instinctively, I know the fires could spread here in a matter of hours, but part of me is in denial: "It won't happen to me. It can't happen here."
Sadly, those fires have destroyed the homes of many people who didn't think it could happen to them. No, they couldn't have stopped the fires, but they could have been better prepared for the moment when they were given 10 minutes to grab whatever they could carry.
My complacency over the nearby fires makes me think about a fire spreading across the radio landscape, destroying our "normal" way of life. As we hear of spreading fires elsewhere, we hope things will remain stable and not affect us. It's human nature: Most of us are in denial about what we know will change our lives and the way we do business. So we remain unprepared even as we think, "I'll deal with it when I'm forced to deal with it."
We know instinctively that being prepared is the best thing, but life, business, time, and budget pressures get in the way.
The flames that are spreading across the media landscape are those of digital media. The statistics don't lie.
- 16.2% of all LOCAL ad dollars have shifted away from legacy media and are now online. That's expected to jump to 24% by 2015.
- 43.5% of every ad dollar spent online goes to Google.
- In 2011, retail e-commerce will grow 13.7%, to reach $188 billion. More local retail is disappearing.
- 71% of Forbes 500 companies consider Facebook and Twitter CRITICAL to their media mix.
- 85% of companies consider Facebook to be a successful tool.
- Facebook has now surpassed Google (66%) as the most widely used marketing method among local merchants.
Sources: Forbes, Wall St. Journal, American Business Journals, Ad Week, Ad Age
Begging Radio To Pay Attention
In 1999, I begged the radio industry to pay attention to trends that I believed would impact business. While most companies ignored my call for action, a few invested without evidence, based entirely on faith. Those companies today lead the Internet revolution in radio, and the others have never caught up.
It Won't Happen To MeThe digital revolution is upon us. Today most of my friends running radio stations think digital is something that will happen to someone else, think that there isn't enough money in it to invest the time, feel the returns are low, and believe digital is overly hyped. Most have the attitude that they will learn it they have to, and that they can always catch up.
But when the CEO of WPP Group, the largest agency in the world, says that virtually all advertisers are demanding digital options from traditional media and those who don't offer them will be left in the dust, you need to listen. Just because it hasn't hit your station yet does not mean it's not going happening.
Will these same women and men awaken one day with no cash flow because demand has shifted, and clients now require deep digital solutions before they'll buy radio? Will there be time to learn, get up to speed, and train your people? The wildfire of digital media demands from LOCAL and national business is about to engulf all media, and those who have not prepared themselves will find themselves badly burned.
A Well Kept SecretIn my consulting practice, I have seen under the tent at many companies that are quietly developing digital alternatives, which they package with radio campaigns. They're getting business others don't even know they're missing. I'm seeing a significant growth in revenues (approaching 20%) coming from digital strategies.
Meanwhile, other companies pretend digital doesn't exist and that radio as a standalone will always be strong enough. Which companies would you bet on? Will they hire you if you're not tuned in, with a deep understanding of digital media paired with radio?
This Is PersonalThe world is filled with uncertainty. Who would have predicted this year's radio acquisitions? Who can predict who will own your company next year, or what your company will be seeking once they realize how much they missed when the digital world caught fire? Are you confident? Do you have a deep understanding of digital? Are you willing to invest in yourself so you can remain employable when the flames hit at your station, or at your next employer?
The Two-Day TuneupYou can fly from anywhere in the United States on Wednesday, May 18, and be back in your office by Friday, May 20, having spent two days in what most consider the most informative, most cutting-edge, most intelligent, and most radical conference in radio. Convergence 11 is filled with visionary thinking and practical applications, and it's the most important step in being prepared for the digital fire that is sweeping over radio as we speak.
You'll learn what radio is doing successfully -- what works, what fails, and why. We will stretch your brain, make you squirm in your chair, and probably make you angry. Then suddenly, it will all come together at the end of day two, and you'll walk away with a deep understanding of concepts you probably didn't know existed. Our speakers are outsiders, not radio insiders. We've all heard the "insider stuff" for years. Our goal is to bring an exterior perspective.
Every attendee at every sold-out Convergence conference gives us high marks. We offer a money-back guarantee, and only once since 1999 have we had to refund a ticket (and that person didn't request a full refund). If this conference doesn't open your eyes and change you deeply, you have our money back guarantee.
With spring here and summer/fall budgets upon you, the call for digital will be loud. Some stations won't be ready for 2012. Will you?
Radio Ink Convergence 11May 18-19, 2011
Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus
Mountain View, CA
PS: Our hotel discount rates at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara expire on April 25, which means that if you wait, you'll have to pay a whole lot more for the host hotel. Plus, there is still time to grab great airline rates into San Jose, and our advance registration rate expires on April 29. Now is the time to save.
PS2: Lots of people have been asking if we have arranged for employee discount prices in the Microsoft Store at the Microsoft Campus. We have. As a registered attendee, you can buy software and other MS goodies, like Xbox and accessories, at the employee discount.