Shutting off ad-insertion (or streaming altogether) may be the "austerity" that costs far more down the road

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:55pm

So, you're a local radio broadcaster (or you head a group), and your online efforts over the past 10 years haven't done much of anything postive for your bottom line. Specifically, you feel the process of replacing your advertisers' on-air content in your streams with online-only material simply costs too much, sounds horrible, and doesn't generate the revenue to make it worth the bother.

Think you'll abandon "ad-insertion" and simply stream a pure simulcast of your on-air signal? Or perhaps shut down the stream altogether? Certainly you want to carefully consider such a move, and gather as much information and opinion as feasible to advise your decision, right?

"Traditional radio is not dead, but its future is inextricably tied to digital." That's Mike Agovino (here), who'll speak at RAIN Summit Europe in Berlin October 5. But he's COO and co-founder of Triton Digital, so what might you expect him to say?

But consider the thoughts of Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads, who recently called it "foolish" for radio to ignore its online streaming, and wrote, "Streaming will be your primary source of revenue" by 2016, and that "your transmitter will make up only a small percentage of your listening." (See more in RAIN here. )

Rhoads' own publication today offers an interview with SAG/AFTRA National Associate Director Mathis Dunn exploring the realities of compensation for voice talent when streaming ads produced for broadcast radio (that's here). But make sure you also read consultant Mark Ramsey's analysis of the interview, his thoughts on abandoing streaming, the assumption that ad-insertion is necessarily "clunky," and the need for a realistic business model for it (here).

"But is (simply simulcasting the on-air signal's programming and ads online) any way to serve the interests of our clients, let alone our consumers?" he asks. "Is this the way to stage radio for a future where ever-more consumption happens online and radio competes not only against Pandora and its kind, but also potentially against streaming services from Apple, Google, and Amazon? All of whom will squeeze every ounce of value creation out of technology for the benefit of advertisers and listeners alike."

That's what you, the broadcaster, need to decide. We're looking forward to getting lots more input on this very matter during the "Online Strategies for Local Broadcasters" session (more here) at RAIN Summit Dallas. This Tuesday CBS Radio/Dallas' Dan Halyburton will moderate this panel discussion, with panelists Emmis Digital VP Angie May Cook (whose WQHT/New York "Hot 97" is one of the nation's most-innovative when it comes to its new media efforts), Triton Digital's Stephanie Donovan, TargetSpot's Elizabeth Pardieu, and Dave Van Dyke of Radiate Media. 

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