Motive: Why aren’t more clients producing quality radio content?
by Paulo Dias (@therealptp) In late 2012, an Austrian skydiver, hopped up on Red Bull, fell to earth in a project called Red Bull Stratos. The science mumbo-jumbo excited the people who get excited by such things but what appealed to the advertising nerd in me was that the record attempt we were watching on CNN, Sky, BBC and other channels featuring people with gravity defying hairstyles was a shameless Red Bull ad.
It was the shiniest example of branded content we had seen until then and, sitting high-up in Primedia Radio Towers (actually not so high up as they rarely used to let me wander far from my laptop under the stairwell) it dawned upon me that the biggest threat to our radio stations wouldn’t come from new radio stations, but rather from clients being able to produce their own radio-type content.
Yet here we sit in mid-ish 2016 and it’s not happened to the extent it should be.
We all know the benefits of radio. The intimacy, the locality, the personal connection and, when brands advertise on radio, that’s what they want. Whether it’s through a promotion, a contest or a sponsorship, they want all that radio loveliness to rub off on their brand and start cashing cheques. However, no matter how aligned you are to the station and how deep the partnership is, radio stations don’t allow very much input from the client on that content.
The station will always own the story, decide the narrative and slap your name and payoff line into the opening billboard.
Who remembers the content sponsor?
How many of us can remember who sponsors the content we listen to on a daily basis — but we will definitely be able to name the presenter and two or three stories or topics related to that content?
Now this was fine when that broadcast licence gave you a platform and a monopoly over an audience. However, with the rise of digital platforms and brands building their own audience through social media, the channels that the information sail through are no longer just the domain of the massive broadcasters.
Most of us would have heard of “Serial” but the cultural phenomenon that Serial sparked, the first true podcast megahit, inspired a very interesting move by General Electric, something which we should all be taking note of. It created the eight-part podcast series called “The Message” — an Orson Welles-type sci-fi story that brought back the long-form story telling of the radio dramas of the ’40s and ’50s. In its first eight weeks, it registered more than 1.2m downloads and reached no. 1 on the iTunes podcast charts.
Now, if General Electric see the value of its own audio content and understands the power of audio and podcasts, that should be telling us something.
Let go of the content reins
Radio has a job to fill and, as TV fragments, it is a crucial part of the marketing mix. Yet, as strategies move towards clients creating their own content, not all stations are fully prepared to let go of the content reins. Yet there are ways of creating brand-focused and –controlled, broadcast-quality radio content that fits into listener’s lifestyles and habits, and connects with them in the way that radio always has.
Paulo Dias (@therealptp) is the head of creative integration at Ultimate Media. He works closely with the programming teams at leading radio stations to help implement commercial messaging into their existing formats.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
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