The Good News from the OAB

Chris Byrnes – ByrnesMedia

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters’ one day conference was held in Toronto on October 20th and included some top quality speakers who delivered relevant and compelling information to

over 200 attendees. The common thread running through most of these sessions was that Radio has a bright future and there are lots of opportunities.

John Parikhal talked about “How to profit from Change” and the new trends re-shaping the media, including:

1. The Tech Earthquakes: These come from nowhere, and will continue to happen faster than ever before. For example, just 18 months ago there were no iPads, now there are 20 million. There were no Android phones and now there are 100 million. 18 months ago Groupon was not a threat, but today it is allowing the retailer to reach customers with more ‘direct’ means than ever before. This is what affects radio and television

2. Connected Customers: They are always online and now they filter, skim and dive. This means they surf the web until they find something that interests them, and dig deeper on a specific topic of interest. They are networked personally via Facebook and professionally via LinkedIn. People today, more than ever, are looking to connect with like-minded people, because they have needs and often a ‘tribe need’ which is about ‘belonging’ – such as being a fan of a hockey team or of TV series. They have ‘my need’ which is more personal – such as an amateur photographer who visits camera and photo sites without joining anything or posting anything.

3. The Google Advertiser: The younger generation are creatively confused and many media buyers admit that are not sure that mass media is effective anymore. Viewership of television amongst 18-49 year-olds is down, for example, but rates are up. Somehow this medium continues to defy gravity when it comes to rates.

John suggested that today, more than ever, we need to:

a. Love your customers: One way is to check your website and see how quickly the pages load. If it’s longer than 2.7 seconds, 75% of them will leave you. Radio needs to make it easier for listeners to interact with the station. Do not make them jump through hoops to enter a contest, and reward them with unexpected joys from time to time.

b. It’s not about you: We need to tell our customers what’s in it for them.

c. Help your advertisers: Create campaigns that relate to your target audience, and create water cooler talk.

d. Help yourself: One way is to improve the measurements systems we have in place so we know more about our audience.

John also suggested that the most successful businesses think beyond 90 days and try more things but fail faster. Try it and either fry it (didn’t work) or bake it (it did work), but try more things

Lew Dickey, the Chairman & CEO of Cumulus Media, was the Keynote speaker. Lew is a second generation broadcaster and is clearly passionate about the radio business and feels very positive about radio’s future. He controls the second largest radio group in the USA, and with the recent purchase of Citadel Broadcasting now owns 570 stations in 120 markets. Lew feels strongly that radio has the best delivery system going, in that with one transmitter you can reach hundreds of thousands of people efficiently and at a low cost. He talked about radio’s two sets of customers and the importance of air personalities connecting with listeners and sales people connecting with advertisers. He feels that having a local sales team with good connections to the local retailers is something that Google and Apple covet. Delivering local radio is the other key to success according to Lew, but he also mentioned that he believes there will be even more consolidation in US Radio and some groups are over leveraged and may not get their financing renewed.

Sean Luce from the Luce Performance Group ran a 2-day interactive Sales seminar for Sales Reps called “The Shift: Becoming a Sales Warrior in the New Media World.” Other speakers included Mike Leahy and Daniel Anstandig on leveraging social media for ratings and revenue, and Tim Casey from BMO on the state of the broadcast industry in Canada.

Watch for the dates of the 2012 conference, which will be posted on some time in the new year.