Tools of Engagement
January 20, 2012
A few scattered thoughts this week:
-One leftover thing from CES is how the ad agency people in attendance kept talking about engagement. They were talking about how to measure the effectiveness of new media campaigns, and it all came down to looking for engagement with the users, leading to the metric they really want, product sales. That's it. That's what they and their clients want. It's not about mass numbers, it's about numbers of people who will buy the product.
And that's what they'll ultimately want from ALL media, because if you're buying ads and one medium talks about reach and frequency and audience shares but doesn't show you how many people actually, actively pay attention to the ads nor how many act on it (in other words, buy something), and another medium can show down to the individual how many people saw or heard the ad and whether they made a purchase or clicked on something, which would you take to your clients? The old way of selling isn't quite dead, and the old way of advertising on traditional media isn't dead, either -- it still works -- but radio's going to have to prove it better, and just showing PPM figures won't cut it (do you pay attention to every spot that's on the air when you're in the presence of an operating radio? If you know you aren't, the advertisers know that, too).
Wait, though. Talk radio IS "engagement," at least when you're entertaining and compelling and taking calls and generating Twitter and Facebook comments. Talk radio practically invented the idea of engagement in media. If social media like Facebook and Twitter are ongoing conversations, so is talk radio. If you've added social media as an element of your show and station, your bases are covered. All you have to do is show how you can sell product, and, well, a strong radio personality can move product, from Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh putting Snapple on the map in the '80s to local hosts today selling Lasik and sending people to car dealerships.
So radio still has a story to be told. The rules and standards have changed, but you can't count talk radio out.
-Last week's column had just been sent over to be posted when Clear Channel Radio became Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, and it wasn't too long before critics started to carp about that. No more "radio"? Another nail in radio's coffin! An attempt to fool people into thinking they're "new media"! Heresy!
But it goes back to what I said in last week's column: we're all in the entertainment business, a part of which is radio. We can't define ourselves by a single medium, especially since anyone who's paying attention is already involved in other media, whether video or online or whatever. The name "radio" for content creators and companies is unnecessarily limiting. I'd change it, too.
Besides, since when do all radio companies have to have "radio" in their names? Many never have. Greater Media, Cumulus Media, NextMedia, all the companies with "communications" in their names... nobody ever thought twice about those. Radio is a medium. Practically every radio station has a hand in other media like websites and streaming, whether or not they do a good job of it.
Like I suggested last week, our business is being redefined. You either move with it or fall by the wayside. Whether these companies have the ability to survive or not is a separate question, but you can't fault them for trying.
Operating in new media for over a decade, Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, is still pumping out hundreds of show topics for talk radio. You'll find it here, and you can follow the column on Twitter at @talktopics. There's also "10 Questions With..." Michelle Mckormick, doing double duty as a talk host at WJRW/Grand Rapids and on the morning show at Classic Rock sister station WLAV, and, as always, you'll also find the radio industry's first-best-most complete coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook with my personal accounts at @pmsimon and www.facebook.com/pmsimon, and read the pop culture stuff I write and edit over at Nerdist.com. My personal website, pmsimon.com, is still on a temporary hiatus due to time constraints. It's coming back soon. I promise.
I'm running too late to come up with a good closing thing here, so, oh, I don't know, go have a good weekend. There's playoff football on TV, so how can it be a bad weekend?