Ad Loads At Hispanic Radio: Tackling A Tough Topic


MIAMI — The endless commercial break. It’s so bad that Radio Ink Editor Ed Ryan’s daughter, 24, won’t even listen to the radio. Is the stopset slog a problem for Hispanic radio? Ryan probed four of the industry’s top executives as the moderator of the Hispanic Radio Executive Leadership Roundtable on Wednesday afternoon at the Hispanic Radio Conference in Miami.

First to tackle the sensitive topic: Otto Padron, President/CEO of Meruelo Media.

Noting that radio is often prone to the “drip and drop” of spots across every commercial break, Padron noted that the key challenge was to try to balance spots with every other way a radio station is able to make money. And, there is always a conflict in try to achieve that balance.

That’s why Padron doesn’t look at advertisements as commercials, but rather as disruptions.

Is there the right balance? No, he admits. At the same time, he holds the belief that radio is not just a music platform. “There is something that the DSPs are not going to be able to provide,” Padron says of digital pure-play audio sources.

Meanwhile, some dayparts will need to balance others, as commercial-free hours take away spots that are, in a way, made up for at other points in a day.

When it came time for Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) COO Albert Rodriguez to offer his thoughts on the topic, he struck a very reverent tone, one that practically proselytized Radio and its untapped power. That said, it was very clear that having too many commercials isn’t a bad thing.

“We are in a beautiful business when we are completely oversold,” Rodriguez says. “It’s the time to call our clients and tell them we need more! When you tell your clients they can’t have something, they want it more.”

Ryan proved to be a strong moderator, pushing the topic further as Univision Radio President Jesus Lara offered his biggest challenge: attribution. With respect to the spot loads, “it depends on the daypart and on seasonality,” Lara says.

Norsan Media Chairman/CEO Norberto Sanchez, whose stations can be found across the Southeast, noted that at his regional Mexican properties, sales are at 120% of capacity. Could he raise the rates to get that down to 100%? “That’s kind of tough,” Sanchez admits.

The conversation then wound back to Rodriguez, who again waxed poetically about the wonders of Radio and how Hispanic audio, in particular, has a window of opportunity to grow. His words prompted Ryan to remark, “It sounds like an investor phone call for you,” resulting in laughter from the capacity in-person audience at the Intercontinental in Doral.

Ryan further pushed the question by asking the panelists if it is fair for the No. 7 advertiser in a spotload with 10 commercials to pay the same rates as the first or second advertiser. Padron noted that there is some “pod exclusivity,” but this reflects categories and not the total number of commercials. Furthermore, Padron says, there’s a wholesaler picking up inventory and that creates traffic headaches for Meruelo’s stations.

Lara adds that Univision Radio has “a couple of volume deals” with a couple of third-party players.

Speaking from the audience, noted multicultural media sales strategist Sherman Kizart shared that he’d just spent the last two hours on the phone with Publicis, as its “Once and For All” coalition, comprised of 21 clients and audio activation teams, were “trying to figure out how to spend more money with everybody in the room.” publisher Gene Bryan sparred with Kizart, disputing just how much investment companies other than Procter & Gamble Co. are investing in Hispanic media.

The conversation ended with a question from Dana Cortez, the syndicated radio host. She asked the panel what Radio can do to rebrand itself? The answer from SBS’s Rodriguez? “Don’t be afraid to embrace audio because it enhanced Radio,” he says.