Borrell: Radio Will Die Without Digital and Local Promotions

Radio guru Gordon Borrell was asked in Media Life Magazine: Do you see radio’s share of local ad spending rising or falling over the next five years? The next ten? Why?

Borrell responded: Radio as we know it will continue to lose market share until it’s nearly gone entirely. I’d give it 15 years, when the majority of cars on the road have dashboards with way too many fun options to radio.

There will, however, be survivors. I suspect that they will be companies like Entercom and Townsquare, who have started to think like blacksmith shops did 100 years ago. They realized their business wasn’t serving people who owned horses but serving the transportation needs of those people.

Broad investments in digital services units are very similar to blacksmith shops a century ago, installing gas pumps and tire bays, preparing for the inevitable.

What key advantages does radio have over other local media in this new media landscape?

Borrell: Radio stations have two key advantages. They are the original social media and thus have developed strong audience affinities, as evidenced in bumper stickers. People identify with country or hip-hop or classical music.

And with that affinity comes a greater willingness to do what the station suggests on air. That’s really powerful, and I’ve seen that translate to digital action, which is what a lot of advertisers want.

The radio industry also knows how to pull off promotions and events better than its media competitors. I’d like to see radio parlay that mastery of promotions and events into an events-driven initiative. Why? Because (and this is an amazing fact) local advertisers see “events” as a bigger driver of new customers than any form of advertising, including online.

Events drive more customers than newspaper ads, TV spots, directory advertising, radio spots, billboards, etc.

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