From time immemorial broadcasters have sought the perfect balance between the content that brings in an audience and the advertising that brings in revenue. Radio thinker Mark Ramsey advises not to worry so much about spotloads, but about what is surrounding the spots.
In a 10/3 blog post, Ramsey cites many examples of different audio platforms and different approaches to advertising. He points out that there are two primary approaches to the topic just within the radio community, noting that ads fit in more seamlessly for stations using a spoken word format than for those using a music-based format, with a higher spotload for talkers as the obvious result.
He also noted that leading internet audio outlet Pandora is increasing its spotload. He said it isn’t doing so in order to better entertain its audience, it’s doing so because it needs to generate more revenue.
Ramsey explained that one must think of advertising as the price a listener pays for the otherwise free service. The big key is that the programming surrounding the spots must be compelling enough to induce the listener to put up with the spots.
Answering the question should AM-FM radio reduce spotloads to better complete with online platforms, he said, “No, the real answer is to create more value, to make our content worth listening to no matter what clutter surrounds it, to minimize the clash between content and messaging, to make the ads relevant to the audience who hears them, and to focus on what’s hard for platform competitors to do rather than what’s easy.”
Ramsey concluded, “Advertising is the price consumers pay for radio. If the price is too high, perhaps that says more about the content than the ads.”