Monday, October 4, 2010

Radio, Newspapers: Back to the Agency Silos?

 via Tales of Future Past -

At the OMMA (Online Media, Marketing & Advertising) conference, keynote speaker Arianna Huffington takes pains to note the continued viability of newspapers. She gets seven papers delivered daily and reads them all, she declares.

I glance about. It's around 9:30 am. For the first time in a long history of attending morning business meetings, no newspaper is in sight. And most of the attendees are not teens or millenials. But all are in the ad industry.

Huffington is so old-fashioned that's she's also made a commitment to sleep eight hours nightly -- and she  wants to find common cause between right and left political partisans. Not only does she read newspapers, she probably even listens to the radio.

My mind is on that ancient audio medium, because I'm heading next to a big Advertising Week event -- more a rally in fact -- thrown by NYMRAD (New York Market Radio). Radio execs, of course, have little interest in taming rabid partisans (almost entirely right-wing) because that's where the listeners and revenues lie. 

The first speaker is former TV star/liberal turned radio talk show host/conservative Dennis Miller who, unlike Huffington, can't separate his politics from the business pitch. Miller''s there to sell radio as an ad medium, but he can hardly utter a sentence without bashing President Obama, Speaker Pelosi or Secretary Clinton. Yet he insists that he's holding back his worst vitriol in deference to what he terms a Democratic audience.

But if Democrats don't listen to talk radio, and media buyers are Democrats, where does that leave the radio industry? During the event's cocktail party, I strike up a conversation with a typical media buyer.

"Radio's not something we ordinarily think about," she admits. "Who listens to radio in New York?"
So I start thinking. Ad folks obviously watch TV.  Even OMMA has a Time Warner cable exec on one of its panels. Of course, that's because cable has begun including the Internet in its ad sales mix. But so have newspapers and radio.

Weren't "silos" supposed to be a thing of the past at media agencies, and integrated media now all the rage? Yet if buyers are so obsessed with checking out sponsored tweets and testing the latest mobile apps that they can't bother to pick up a Sunday newspaper circular to see how Target garners store traffic, or turn on the radio to hear how Dennis Miller sells sump pumps (the things you learn at industry events!), perhaps online has become the new TV -- the only thing that really matters now in the ad world.

So while Huffington hypes newspapers and Miller talks radio, I...well, I admit it,  I too don't have a newspaper with me during Advertising Week -- I'm getting the news I want via my Blackberry. And I'm not listening to drive-time radio on the way to the conference either -- that's impossible on the subway, for one thing, but I can hear all the tunes I want on my iPad anyway. Who needs radio these days after all? Who needs newspapers?

Oh well, time to stop pontificating and get back to the real world,  I've got online advertising companies to promote. Hmm, let's see. That client's story should be just perfect for Stuart Elliott in the Times. That other client keeps pestering me to get mentioned by Mossberg in the Journal.  And that book about politics and technology?  Well, a radio tour is the only way to go.

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