Compared to past years, there is a dramatic increase in the number of Internet oriented panels at the upcoming NAB Radio show, next week in Charlotte. Good thing too. Locally focused advertisers are spending more money online, and Radio (as well as TV & Newspapers) are in a good position to leverage this. But will they do what it takes to win ?

When posing this question to really smart, seasoned broadcast managers, they inevitably respond ” I don’t want to cannibilize my broadcast money, and I don’t want my sellers chasing Web dollars. We’re in the RADIO business !”

This is where I cautiously launch into my patented reply: “I understand exactly what you’re saying. Many broadcasters feel the same way. Yet, I know of a growing list of broadcasters that are starting to realize: We’re really in the business of connecting marketers to consumers.  We enable commerce, and luckily, we have the ubiquitous power of the Radio transmitter to help enable that advertiser/consumer relationship. Let’s use ALL of our assets: spot, promos, Web, database, live remotes, and events to accomplish that.”

Traditional ‘spot’ revenues for Broadcasters are mainly flat or slipping. This puts local traditional media companies in a tough spot. Do we put our nose down, and work even harder at selling our traditional advertising inventory, or do we re-direct some of our sales efforts towards growing our interactive share? A somewhat sobering take on this issue is well communicated by Ken Dardis from AudioGraphics here.

Radio is in a much better position than they think. It’s easy to see from the graph above. Traditional media needs a strong gameplan to go after these growing online dollars. As more dollars are being allocated to ‘measured media’ like the Internet, some smart broadcasters realize that they own some pretty powerful tools to grab a piece of fast growing Web expenditures.

Radio’s not so secret weapons:

Relationships with media buyers/planners, especially on the local front. Broadcast reps will always have a shot to pitch interactive or cross platform programs. They already have a built-in trust with the buyer. All the while, the exploding volumes of pure-play dot coms are finding it hard to get in front of these key decision makers. There is only so many hours in the day for media planners to take meetings with the growing list of online-only media sites.

The Broadcast transmitter and tower. Think of how valuable it is, to be able to promote a client’s online destination, or a sales based promotion that is housed within the broadcaster’s website. Radio has it’s very own megaphone on steroids; the transmitter. The dot com pure-plays don’t have this luxury. They have to pay for offline promotion.

Broadcasters are well positioned to re-invigorate their business by leveraging the assets they already have in place. Now all they have to do is put more skin into the game. How? Devote appropriate resources, and make the Web a strategic part of every sales, programming and marketing innitiative……. not just as an ‘add-on’.

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