Wednesday, 15 October 2008


The perception is: Your product sucks

Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan:

“The challenge is not really the content.  The challenge is the perception.  If the content were as bad as some of our critics say, listening would have declined precipitously.  It hasn’t. It has fragmented less than almost any form of conventional media.  The problem is, you must deal with the perception problem.”
To be fair (and not take the quote– from Emmis’s second quarter earnings conference call– too far out of context), Smulyan is talking about the perception of big market advertising agencies (“[They]are saying radio’s over.”) and of investors (“...If the [radio] industry is still viable, which we think it is, reaching 260 million people a week, then it's been oversold.”)  Both points are true (or arguably true).
“...Up until this time, there wasn't a perception that the radio industry was sort of dead.”
So why this perception.  What changed?  Dave Wilson:
...Consider the things drawing [consumers] away from free local radio.

Satellite radio offers hundreds more channels than free local radio. Internet radio offers thousands more channels than free local radio.  GPS devices let consumers get traffic and weather information instantly, without having to wait for the next report on free local radio.  And the list goes on.
...Programming is a very significant part of the puzzle, and that the changes that occurred in this area post-1996 have generally resulted in many listeners having a lower opinion of AM/FM radio.

...Local content is important to many, but...far more damaging than less local content, in my view, was the increase in the number of spots broadcasters had to run to pay off the loans they took out to buy up other stations.

...Broadcasters loaded up their schedules with so many spots... that listeners began to perceive that the ratio of spots to desired content was out of balance.

Radio’s collective behavior in this regard was typical of a monopoly...: abusing the consumer in terms of jamming more and more commercials into the mix.
And abused consumers will opt out, given any reasonable opportunity.

So who’s right? Seems to me that the ad agencies (answerable to their clents, and thus strongly aware of the effectiveness of any media they use) and the investors (any of whom can judge the quality of radio’s product simply by tuning in) have (re)discovered two things: Too many spots make each one less effective.  And, lousy programming makes people tune out.  Truths, not “perception.”

For Smulyan to say that “the challenge is not really content” is, shall we say, naïve?  Because content, far more than handwaving, statistics, or political action, does influence perception.  And for radio, right now, the perception seems to be, “your product sucks.”

Indianapolis Business Journal:   Embattled Emmis hanging in there
Audio Graphics news:   Radio Industry Needs to Stop Defending Itself
(added 081017) Mark Ramsey:   Radio “Beyond Acceptance”

Posted by: Old Grouch in Radio at 01:21:09 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 471 words, total size 5 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
65kb generated in CPU 0.05, elapsed 0.2326 seconds.
49 queries taking 0.1997 seconds, 128 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.