BRADENTON, Fla. — In addition to all the other valuable and important matters that were explored at the just-completed “TALKERS 2017” conference in New York City, I enjoyed one extra benefit by attending. It was the opportunity to meet face-to-face and exchange ideas with some of the folks whose responsibility it is to sell the advertising that supports the talk media and hopefully to make it profitable. And the challenge before us clearly appears to be growing. It is a topic we’ve been discussing for years now, but these days it has blossomed into a gigantic bloom. Why? Because of the new technology that allows any individual — even in his or her own bedroom — to create and present a talk show on any topic and make it available to the entire world.
With podcasts, there are no limitations on coverage and signal strength — not even on language and subject matter. And there is little or no cost in producing it. Plus, the people who do these on-demand talk shows can claim hundreds of thousands of “listens.” What exactly is a “listen?” Well, it’s not necessarily what it sounds like because there is no statistical evidence that the program was actually “listened to.” But the broadcast business always had problems with the data proffered by the ratings companies. Even today, Nielsen Audio continues to try to improve the efficacy of its Portable People Meter.
It is clear from our conversations in the hall that talk radio willingly jumped into the new-tech because it created an opportunity to further expose its vast array of well-produced, professional talent. This was considered, at the very least, a wise defensive measure.
Now the issue becomes one of how to monetize it. Yes, the sales folks are looking for ways to make money off these ancillary platforms. We unanimously agreed that you can’t go back to your current advertisers and ask for more money. But it is an opportunity to return to those who have turned you down before, go to new prospects with this additional tool and cement your relationships with your regular ones.
Every talk station, syndicator, and just about every show has a digital platform. The key here is to integrate the advertiser’s message in a way that connects with the digital user without taking away from the listening experience. Upon this we all agreed.
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.