Here’s Where Radio Beats Google For Advertisers


The daily newspaper, like the AM and FM radio station, may be viewed as a relic among today’s media buyers and planners — many of whom have a MTA Metrocard in their pocket (or under the sole of their shoes) at all times and consume much of their media while wearing earbuds.

Yet, for the advertiser, digital solutions may be more problematic than they initially thought, thanks to the influence of these buyers and planners, agency reps who continue to push digital, and clients who want those pesky, perky millennials that never seem to have as much money to spend as their parents.

The Wall Street Journal, as “legacy media,” obviously has a bit of a bone to pick with digital advertising solutions. After all, dollars it’s not getting is lost revenue, so any negative news tied to Google or Facebook ad metrics is good news for the WSJ, right?

Well, the latest salvo on the dangers of digital media is actually more good ammo for the radio industry and the Radio Advertising Bureau. Why, you ask?

When’s the last time an advertiser suspended ads on your radio station for its placement alongside “extremist content”?

If you haven’t heard, Google is in the midst of a “powerful backlash from advertisers over the past several days.” As the WSJ reports, HSBC Holdings PLC and L’Oréal cut their spending with Google (and YouTube) following reports that Google regularly placed their ads on so-called “fake news” websites.

These reports have been swirling for months. Yet, these websites have been around for a while — long before the 2016 presidential election, which resulted in two things: the loss of Hillary Clinton and the rude awakening to the fact that BS flourishes on the wild ol’ web.

In December 2016, the WSJ shared one example of real ads appearing on “fake news” websites, as an ad for the new Dodge Ram 1500 appeared in the top right column alongside a report that Yoko Ono had an affair with Mrs. Clinton in the 1970s.

Obviously, the report is false, and the website where this ad appears is the World News Daily Report.

Other advertisers with digital ads appearing on “fake news” websites, thanks to Google’s placement via digital ad networks, included Choice Hotels, SoundCloud, and Bose Corp.

Why? “Multiple middle-men” are involved — including AdRoll Inc., a digital ad placement company that partners with Google.

While Google said it would do more policing some three months ago, problems persist. Now, there are reports that ads are appearing as pre-roll on a YouTube video promoting racist or terrorist groups.

Yikes. What’s a Google to do?

Hire more people and use more technology to enforce a plan that gives marketers greater control — and visibility — over where their digital ads appear.

“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values,” Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said in a blog post Tuesday.

Here’s an idea: Why not have advertisers have their ads next to a “Second Date Update” on the nationally syndicated Brooke & Jubal program? What about a live read from Ryan Seacrest on his nationally syndicated program, with a premium added in for his KIIS-FM in Los Angeles show?

Pornography or neo-Nazis a concern? Well, how about you wrap your ads around Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Rihanna in an environment that guarantees security?

That’s radio.

The very idea of having to employ people to screen hours and hours of radio content prior to having a run-of-schedule finalized sounds absurd and absolutely ludicrous.

Yet, that’s what Google is proposing as a solution to its digital ad placement problems.

As the WSJ reports, “Google must screen a sea of content that every day adds thousands of websites and nearly 600,000 hours of new YouTube footage … while some controversial content, such as pornography or neo-Nazi sites, clearly violates its standards for advertising, other cases are nuanced and require human review.”

David Rodnitzky, head of ad agency 3Q Digital, summed up the quandary perfectly when commenting to the WSJ. “The reason Google has been reluctant on how to address this is because they can’t fully address it,” he said.

It’s stunning, and a Band-Aid as Google scrambles to correct a system filled with security holes by its very design. WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell assailed Google for failing to take responsibility for its content. Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser on Monday lowered his rating on Google parent Alphabet to “hold” from “buy” — solely due to the issue of brand safety.

Sadly, there is a consensus opinion that “this too shall pass,” as digital advertising is not going to diminish and disappear, bringing big budgets back to radio or television. One noted Wall Street analyst RBR + TVBR spoke with for our upcoming 2017 NAB Show Special Report pays little attention to radio, and doesn’t plan on adding any radio companies to her list of publicly traded media companies she regularly tracks.

With radio still struggling for respect, we believe the security issues for brands using Google and many other digital advertising solutions are real — and radio should respond.

All it takes is a unified effort, one that touts radio’s superior reach — and safety for brands. You know exactly where your ads are heard. Heck, with digital solutions you’ll also know exactly where your ads are seen, thanks to Apps such as NextRadio, iHeartRadio and station-specific apps companies such as Alpha Media and Entercom are using.

With the 2017 NAB Show five weeks away, let’s get everyone in Las Vegas talking about how radio is “striking back” against digital.

Otherwise, radio will be that tumbleweed blowing aimlessly down Desert Inn Road, looking mighty pretty but pretty much getting ignored by investors who haven’t thought about radio since the Desert Inn still existed.