By Ken Dardis
Thank you for offering to host a debate, and for the link to Bob Hoffman's talk at "Advertising Week Europe 2014." Let me address this in reverse order because even the way Mr. Hoffman's talk was introduced, by you, shows why Radio Ink is not the platform on which to place a debate of this nature. (Your quote: "You should all check it out, especially if you think digital is winning the day. You may be surprised.")
In my opinion, Bob Hoffman was talking of advertising from a position of not understanding the analysis of online data. In his preamble (around 6:30 in), where he ties scientific "proof" to online prognosticators, he states that "knowing something, it turns out, is completely different than thinking you know something." Much of what follows is void of his "knowing something" -- though there are a few stats, they are general and not focused on the change taking place with youth. He says multiple times "...this is what I think" with no supporting data.
Example: He states that "...banner ads have a click-through rate lower than one-in-a-thousand... this is not interactivity. This is absence of interactivity" (17:21 in). At least with digital we know the click-through rate. Can anyone in your audience tell me the response rate of a radio ad with certainty? I've produced over 10,000 radio and television commercials, and can only guess -- but I'd place it lower than one-in-a-thousand.
At 9:40, Mr. Hoffman blasts Forrester & Company's predication, then uses Apple as an example. Problem: Though there was small traditional media usage by Apple for its iTunes, the vast majority of exposure did not take place with "advertising" but through a social shift in consumer behavior towards music purchase.
Let's get this out of the way now: Bob Hoffman does not mention "radio" until 36:40 into his discussion -- and only the word -- while referencing traditional media. This point is moot, but his conversation was not about radio advertising and does not reflect anything remotely close to the lack of creativity and time spent helping a radio client with their campaign.
I strongly agree with his assessment of social media, and have written thousands of words on how it drains radio. This is a land where everyone is talking and nobody is listening. Any company with a successful social media initiative has a "team" which focuses on this platform, not interns and disc jockeys guessing whether what they post is effective.
I also agree with Bob Hoffman's statement on under-serving the over-50 crowd. But this conversation is supposed to be revolving around digital, which is a mainstay of the 40-and-below.
Now, my reason for why Radio Ink is not a place to hold an impartial debate that's judged by its audience: The digital proponent loses before opening their mouth because there are many nuances of the digital arena that will not be understood by the audience.
This is not saying stupidity reigns, but too often I see radio people discussing "being digital" when what they mean is "we have an online presence." (As recent as July 31, I wrote about one conversation with a large-market radio general sales manager who confused digital with being online and selling CPM -- http://www.audiographics.com/agd/073114-1.htm)
If the audience is distributed between traditional media and new media types, the debate will be judged in a more impartial manner (which is why I requested that "your peers include folks who know digital"). Think of a politician and their objective in saying what the crowd wants to hear.
If it's a radio-only audience, such as Radio Ink serves, you'll find many people shaking their heads in agreement with Mr. Christian, simply because they lack an understanding of the digital side of this equation.
Let me bring up one more comment from Mr. Hoffman; it appears around the 32-minute mark in his talk: "Attending an advertising conference these days is like going to an insurance seminar. It's full of bland, jargon monkeys who just repeat the overcooked cliches of the same experts we see at every conference." This is preceded by: "We have developed a terrible habit of telling half the truth, half the time. We speak in dreadful jargon that obscures what it pretends to clarify." Replace advertising with radio as a reference in both sentences; that's reality.
I've attended too many radio conferences and have heard the questions from audience members, which are less than naive and embarrassing when taken in the context of what should be asked at this time of digital's growth. I've also never had this question answered: What is it that you learned about digital at this past conference and took back to your station and implemented? I'm not aware of anything. Are you?
Debating Mr. Christian in front of a radio-only audience will do no good until that audience educates itself on the possibilities of taking data-driven action. It is possible to track movement from ad to cash register. I've done it. It is possible to give definitive ROI figures on ad spend; I've done it. What is not possible is to discuss the promise of going digital with a group whose majority is begging to stay the same.
Audio Graphics, Inc.
(8/13/2014 2:01:04 AM)
I am glad to see Ken still drops by to contribute from time to time. I also believe him, meanwhile, when he states he has had quite enough with trying to educate a radio-crowd on how to use digital platforms and their capacities to show results.
My fear, however, is that radio will continue to get caught up in some form of the theatrics attached to digital. They use this time and pay the expenses to, once again, ignore what it is that radio is supposed to be doing -- communicating effectively to audiences on behalf of advertisers who also expect to benefit from superior advertising messaging.
Somebody else once mentioned that educating a radio audience on the business of horse racing has limited returns, especially when the audience is made up of well-groomed, well-dressed cattle.
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