Recently I tossed out a challenge regarding radio and television advertising methods in the months and years to come. To simplify what I wrote a few days ago, it means never stopping the music for commercials, instead do live messages over song intros. Read the details here.
Anthony Juliano who writes the SoundBite Back blog independent of his work at the Asher Agency here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, (where we are both residents) sent me a story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal and other publications this week about something that Clear Channel tried to do with their radio station advertising departments.
(About a week ago at a meeting that included Tim Borne, Chairman of the Asher Agency, I started to explain my concept and how to apply it to television broadcasting.)
Here are a few excerpts of the WSJ story:
"...In 2004, Clear Channel Communications Inc. introduced a program called "Less Is More" to boost its flagging ad sales. The goal was to generate more revenue by selling shorter ads at a higher price. The company also hoped more listeners would tune in to its radio stations, attracted by the shorter ad breaks..."
To which I say is good in theory, but the execution was lacking. Here's more:
"...The idea behind the shorter ads was that if the ad breaks moved along briskly, listeners wouldn't tire as easily and switch stations. And many Clear Channel stations have won more listeners in recent years, which the company attributes in part to the strategy. A few months after "Less Is More" rolled out, the company said audiences had expanded in 64% of its top 50 markets.
The initiative also succeeded in winning wider acceptance for shorter radio ads, which includes 30-second spots, 10-second spots and even one-second mentions known as "blinks." In 2004, a Clear Channel spokeswoman says, shorter- length spots represented less than 5% of total time sold at its stations, and they now account for 35% to 40%...."
So perhaps it DID work to some degree of shorter commercials which could mean shorter commercial breaks, and less likelihood of listeners punching the button for another station.There are a couple of flaws with this though. Generally speaking, studies have shown that a listener does not care the length of a commercial, just how many are played in a row. This is not even a conscious awareness, but sub-conscious feeling that was triggered in part by the changes from one commercial to the next.
A station can play 3 minutes of 60 second commercials, or 3 minutes of 30 second commercials (6 ads) and even though they take the same amount of time, the second option will be more likely to cause tune out. Even if someone does not switch stations, the impact of more than three commercial messages diminishes greatly.
And this was part of the problem that Clear Channel ran into. More from the WSJ:
"..."Less Is More" also came with limits, such as how many minutes of advertising could run an hour. Now, radio buyers say, those limits are being relaxed somewhat, with more ad time being introduced at some stations. Clear Channel says that in some markets, it's experimenting with fewer but longer ad breaks, and that it is willing to tinker with its formula until it gets the right mix...."
You can read the entire WSJ story here.
We already have ratings documentation that non-stop music will generate increased listenership. Now we need to reintroduce the advertising in such a way, that it does not fall back into the traditional "start and stop" methods of mixing music and commercials that are slowly losing their audiences.
And this idea was experimented with in another fashion in the summer of 2006 in Boston with WFNX, a modern rock station that offered Snapple exclusivity for all their commercial messages.
Trade publication FMQB told us the story, "...Snapple and WFNX will work together to create nontraditional on-air messaging that both engages WFNX listeners and supports the Snapple brand. Short messages and event announcements will be seamlessly woven into WFNX's music programming in the form of hundreds of recorded audio "collages," live DJ reads, bumpers and sweepers...".
Your thoughts are always welcome.
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