Five Lessons from Content Controversy - Walter Sabo
Published: March 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM GMT
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Last Updated: August 8, 2012 at 12:57 AM GMT
By Walter Sabo
If a brand over-reacts, they are part of the problem.
For decades, radio hosts have made comments or played songs that have caused discomfort to their advertisers. How advertisers react to those moments actually can have more negative impact on their brand image than anything said by the radio host.
Typically, an advertiser's first reaction is to pull its spots out of the show. Many advertisers also claim that they didn't know their spot package was running in that program.
Here are five lessons that may be helpful for radio media planning after a controversial event.
1. Radio is a remarkably powerful medium. One voice, without a script or team of producers is capable of creating a national stir and countless newspaper columns and editorials.
LESSON: When buying radio, put top, senior media planners and senior, "C" level management on the job to harness radio's power to benefit your brand.
2. Most advertisers buy a run of day package hoping they will be "bonused" in the network's big shows. Certainly, network salespeople proudly present proof of performance affidavits boasting runs in the show. When trouble hits, these advertisers sometimes say, "I didn't know we were running in that show." Unlikely.
That's as annoying as Zooey Daschenel's repeated claims that she doesn't know why people say she's cute. http://www.fox.com/new-girl/heygirl/
It is reasonable to suspect that many buyers have never listened to the shows they are buying; they just want dah numbers: "GRPS" "CPPS" and "ROIs".
LESSON: When buying radio, listen to the station and the shows. You watch the TV shows you buy, listen to the radio. You might discover that you like the radio shows or stations more than you imagined you would and make a deeper radio buy.
3. A call-in talk show is designed to elicit response. It is the opposite of a bully pulpit. The audience is encouraged to participate, that's why it exists.
While TV shows and newspapers are closed systems that rarely tap the power of audience interaction, radio invented it. If a show's audience disagrees with the content, they will overwhelm the show with their contrarian phone calls. It is unlikely that daily listeners to a given show are offended. Commercials were not airing in a unique environment for that show. Rating's success in radio is dependent on content consistency.
LESSON: The audience for a given show, likes the show. A radio show or station buy delivers the same commercial environment every day. It's the no-surprise medium.
4. Radio offers extraordinary environment control compared with the Internet. Go to any online video website, search for naughty videos and watch which advertisers appears as pop-ups, pre-rolls and banners. You will see the most prestigious brands, the biggest advertisers investing in packages supporting R rated content on the Internet. Those ad buyers will also say they didn't know their message was attached to that content but…there it is.
LESSON: The Federal government offers advertisers rigorous standards for content on Radio and TV that brands are not afforded online or in print. There are escort agency ads in the Yellow pages, not on the radio. A network radio show has two additional levels of protection: A delay mechanism at the point of production and at the point of broadcast. There are TWO gatekeepers that can cut illegal content from airing.
5. The Audience knows your brand is not responsible. Radio advertisers typically buy "audience", not shows. Listeners understand that spot advertisers do not "sponsor" the show, preview the content or do script reviews. Really, they do. Spontaneity is the essential appeal of radio.
Today's audience has a profound understanding of content creation. They, or their friends and family have made online videos, Facebook and Twitter comments or their own blogs. They have experienced the frustration of low response rates and the fun of significant audience feedback.
Thanks to the Internet, not radio or TV, the audience is able to control a brand's image. Customers go online to respond to advertiser placement, they do it based on how well the product lives up to its promises and the level of its customer service. Brand sanctity vanished when the modem arrived.
LESSON: Pulling ads out of a popular radio, TV show or magazine simply means the brand loses a vital touch point with potential consumers.
A brand that publically abandons a specific show's audience is criticizing that audience for selecting the program. Putting a brand on a "do not buy the show" list is instructing media buyers to…"Retreat from that customer base."
Walter Sabo is the founder and creator of Hitviews. HITVIEWS is a company serving brands that wish to reach millions of customers using online video created by WebStars. Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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