Industry reps, meanwhile, are doing everything they can to continue the growth, outlining a strategy to boost radio's image: Listen to advertisers and agencies - and sell the hell out of the medium.
There's the new Visine campaign, for instance, designed by Interep Radio Store, an industry rep firm, to pump ads into communities across the country when pollen counts hit the roof. 'What turned Visine on is we went to them, talked to them about their specific needs,' says Interep executive vp George Pine.
This is hardly a new idea. For years, agency buyers have been saying that the typical sales rep has been too intent on getting the adult contemporary station in Albuquerque he reps on the buy and is not looking at the advertisers' larger needs. And they're moving on it none too soon. If radio doesn't shape up, warns Howard Nass, vp/local broadcast at Foote, Cone & Belding, cable will overtake it. 'It's a sleeping giant,' he says. 'It's everything radio is but with a picture.'
Reps should also benefit from more accurate information about their audiences. Arbitron, which has been tinkering with its radio sample size for years, finally increased it substantially. Arbitron also will soon make its ratings information available to be integrated with qualitative data. All this should help radio sell itself as the most targeted traditional medium around. The new Arbitron system 'should give a truer, a more believable strength to the numbers,' notes Pine.
Another factor in pricing will be the increased competition for ad dollars in markets where stations have been bought by well-heeled owners. As the FCC ha relaxed rules on multiple ownership, formerly weak stations have been picked up and their inventories sold more aggressively. For now, says FCB's Nass, 'it's healthy for the industry, since otherwise we'll see stations disappearing.' Over time, however, the dominant stations may engage in price gouging. 'But you do have choices,' says Nass.
While most buyers are reluctant to make spending predictions about such a last-minute medium, they figure that the longtime slump is finally over. 'I think it's going to be a healthy market,' says a radio buying supervisor at a top U.S. agency.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)