No Talk on Radio Advertising, Except from Radio Industry


Don’t want to jar anyone with this news, so I’ll prep you now; audio advertising isn’t that big a deal online. Take a look around and you’ll find the only people talking about audio advertising within an internet radio format are those folks who are in the business.

While the broadcast radio industry stumbled its way online over the past ten years, video became the internet’s new star. The indicator – besides all the articles on internet video that you read – is Interactive Advertising Bureau’s just released "Digital Video In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines and Best Practices." IAB never got around to talking about guidelines for sound. It doesn’t look like there are going to be any discussions forthcoming either.

Now you may not think this important, that there’s not much guidance about an audio ad, but put yourself in a media planner’s shoes and step back. Think about releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to radio with the intent of running an online radio ad campaign. What do you suppose would come back?

My first vision is that it would be a number of RFPs from bona fide internet radio networks, none sharing the same measurement or reporting system. A second quick flash would be that no network would report, up front, the percentage of audience residing outside of the United States, as that would reduce everyone’s numbers by approximately 25%-30%.

Next would come the insistence that any audio campaign be supported by pre-roll (Gateway) ads, which require some form of graphics or video support. (The "insistence" comes from media buyers. That’s what I keep hearing from people who are selling internet radio advertising.)

Here’s fact based on opinion (a dichotomy if ever there was one). Audio advertising lost its luster for a reason: Over ten years ago the more expensive, experienced production directors began being forced out of a consolidated radio industry, and less experienced PDs were given multiple stations to handle – more work than even an experienced production director could accomplish with quality.

For several years now, advertisers have been exposed to inferior audio commercials. Sans the national radio ads you have upwards of 70% of radio’s commercial product being poorly produced, usually in a yelling voice with loud thematic music and (many times) bad copy.

"Move emotion and you’ll move product" is an axiom that’s not followed with radio advertising today – not on-air, not online.

We need to reassess the creation of audio ads, especially for listeners who are gravitating towards internet radio. Unless we do, there’s nothing newsworthy about an internet radio ad. We’ll keep reading about synchronized banners with audio, and Gateway ads featuring video and banners. Media buyers will keep forgetting to include a flight of audio-only advertising in the radio stream.

There’s a movement to advertise online; no person can deny the statistics.

Now all we need is to stop insisting that you can repurpose on-air radio advertising for online with no adjustments. An internet radio station may still be radio, but it’s turned on and listened to in a more personable way that’s reported with higher precision.

There are differences between on-air and online audio advertising. We just haven’t given it much thought.
Until we do, no news about advertising on radio will produce the same amount of interest from advertisers about internet radio.

(source: Ken Dardis,