BRADENTON, Fla. — There have been explosive changes in the talk media since I was last able to chat face-to-face with a number of my peers at a TALKERS conference a year ago. But, at the recently completed one in New York City — TALKERS 2018: Full Speed Ahead! — we, once again, were able to gather and exchange views. You’ll notice that even my terminology has changed from talk “radio” to talk “media,” and that was clearly evidenced from the stage at the Helen Mills Theater just a number of days ago.
The challenge to the sales folk is how to sell advertising in this ever-evolving, high-tech environment. Ratings, as we once knew them, have lost their value, even if they exist at all. The current term of “number of views or listens” has little meaning since a particular individual may stay on a site no longer than a minute or two and roam elsewhere. And that is counted as a “listen.” Add to this, a program host can run a show from his/her living room couch which conceivably could include a high-profile guest who is a thousand miles away and have an interchange with listeners via call or text message.
The program cannot only emanate from a radio, but from the program host’s website and at the same time, if there is one, from a network or syndicator’s site. And it doesn’t even have to be live and can be accessed anytime a listener is interested and sometimes even more than once. And not only a listener, but a viewer as well. In numerous cases a video camera is present making the show visually available.
Can anything become more challenging than this for a sales person?
But there are ways to go. First, we all agreed that even the least-sophisticated advertiser recognizes the new reality. Then it becomes the sales person’s responsibility to get a handle on the program’s listenership through some kind of promotion that asks for response. Also, a very simple online and on-air questionnaire dealing with the show itself will give a clue.
And how does a sales person determine the rates? By simply making them up and seeing what the reaction will be. As of this time there is no reasonable, statistical information to know what to charge. Most of the gang I spoke with use their old rate cards as the basis for the prices they want to present. Then it becomes the floor upon which to negotiate with the potential advertiser. A couple of us have done it this way with a little bit of success. We are living in a whole new media world that is changing even as this is being written. And the challenges become great as we go along the way.
Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy!
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.