Filling the “White Spaces”

 I found the phrase “white spaces” interesting when it was announced yesterday that the FCC has allowed conditional unlicensed use of “white spacestelevision spectrum. In an attempt to avoid getting bogged down in tech speak. This is the radio spectrum that is now available as a result of TV’s switch to digital.

Once the FCC found that the issue of interference with existing radio signals could be overcome through technology that shuts down any device using the “white space” once it senses another signal, granting access was a slam dunk.

Companies like Google and Microsoft herald the decision as a way to allow widespread mobile adoption. On the other hand, broadcast companies (seeing yet another reason to claim “everybody is out to get us”) and the likes of Verizon (already hot to charge more for services) are less than thrilled.

As I have said previously, I personally am thrilled with anything that allows the growth and spread of mobile access if it leads us closer to parity with other countries (Luxembourg for God’s sake) in services offered wirelessly. I am also concerned as a radio fan. This magic sensing thing-a-ma-bob that prevents interference with existing frequencies sure better work. The last thing any “channel” needs is a return to the “party line” annoyance of too many on a channel. Ick!

“White spaces”  also triggered in me another use of that term. A use that I see benefitting many media channels. As of late yesterday the flood of political advertising stopped…I’ll pause as you jump up and down with joy and do a couple of Tiger Woods arm pumps…done? This sudden loss of “content” in itself reveals a whole lot of “white space”.

[Read more…]

Now…Another Music-Free Commercial Sweep

This was always a running gag for us in music radio. The battle between art (us) and commerce (them) raged endlessly. The challenge of balancing the wants and needs of both of our customers, listeners who want more music and clients who want more ad space, was the topic of 95% of management disagreements.

This argument is one that rages on in all forms of advertiser supported media. I dare say it comes up in the halls at PBS or NPR as well…though in a much more civilized fashion (He says with tongue planted firmly in cheek.).

Just look at TV. There’s what, 20 minutes of “show” in a 30 minute program? And the newspaper, well just take a look at the before and after pictures of our local Sunday paper once the circulars are pulled out….

Then of course those subscription cards, fold outs, scratch and sniff, and regular ads in a magazine that will drive you nuts. There are even a growing number of ads at the start of a movie at the local Superplex 28 Cinema. How about the average website? Well ya know…most aren’t too bad thanks to hyperlinks, unless of course it’s the website of one of the other media outlets mentioned above.

For traditional media, what is the right amount of ad space? What is the deciding factor on how many spots you can air or ads you can cram on the page? The answer…it depends.

It depends on the content. How compelling is it? If it’s fantastic you can run more ads, if it sucks…well…don’t give me another excuse to bail. It also depends on choice. Caution: with so many choices of media, even the best content can be dwarfed by too many ads if some other outlet has good content and fewer ads. As the battle rages on between art vs. commerce be sure and note that it’s a new, much smaller, world. There is more…allot more…choice.

So, what’s your content to ad ratio? Make sure you don’t make it too easy for your viewers, listeners, or users to choose someone else.

Monetizing radio….with commercials.

I found myself in a discussion the other day about radio advertising. In fact, as much time as I’ve spent talking about
monetizing new media, there is still plenty of opportunity to reach consumers,
a lot of them, with great radio…including the commercials.

In my recent discussion I found myself revisiting a lot of the same topics I have addressed
to my staffs of every station or company at which I’ve worked as a broadcaster.
In fact, the following comes directly from memos to those staffs.

Please note: This doesn’t have to be just
for my radio buddies. It can be applied to any commercial production whether it
is new or traditional media.

Radio must make every minute of an hour great. That includes the minutes in commercials.
Don’t think of it as sales gets 12 minutes of commercials and programming gets
48 minutes of music. Consider it as the listener gets a full hour. It
might be worth considering that the reason listeners tune out during
commercials is that they have been trained to do so because, frankly, the spots
are just plain bad.

What will keep listeners listening? Great radio. That means entertaining and informative
content…during music and commercials. For those that sell commercial advertising, the great thing about producing great commercials is the less talked about benefit of getting results for the clients. That means they come back and spend more money. This is a good thing.

Here are some things to remember:

[Read more…]