Radio Industry Backs Posting

At long last, the radio industry has collectively decided to back “posting,” once a dirty word in the business.

The board of directors of the Radio Advertising Bureau, which includes representatives from the largest radio groups, agreed to recommend a set of selling and schedule verification guidelines during the RAB’s board meeting last week in Los Angeles, the RAB announced Wednesday (May 28).

Long before the RAB board met to discuss the issue, groups such as CBS Radio, Entercom Communications, Emmis Communications, Greater Media, and WBEB-FM in Philadelphia, had come out in favor of posting in radio.

In Houston, where Arbitron measures the market using the portable people meter, several agencies have made posting a common practice.

As part of the RAB guidelines, the board suggested that radio broadcasters guarantee the GRP delivery of a radio schedule and be accountable for make-goods if the guarantee falls below the criteria set between buyer and seller.

But, the guidelines are broad and recommend a market (rather than a station post), leaving open a lot of room for negotiation and further refinement. For example, the guidelines advocate posting on multi-book or multi-month average audiences, broad demographic targets and dayparts. There was also no discussion of what margin of error should be used (10 percent is common practice in other media).

Radio had to do something to raise the accountability factor with advertisers, who have reduced budgets in the medium over the past few years. In first quarter, on-air radio revenue dropped 7 percent, a continuation of a seven-year trend of slow to no-growth.

“This is the beginning of a longer process around gaining greater credibility for radio,” said Jeff Haley, president and CEO of the RAB. “We will work closely with the buying community and the American Association of Advertising Agencies to develop and refine our proposal into a set of sound business practices that will enhance advertisers’ confidence in radio while protecting our industry,” he added.

The 4As has set up a task force to work out posting guidelines for the buying and selling of radio time.

“I am pleased that radio has adopted a unified position on verification and compliance solutions,” said Maribeth Papuga, senior vp and director of local broadcast for Mediavest. “I look forward to improving our business practices together.”