From RAB President and CEO Erica Farber saying digital is the best game in town, to advertising executive Bob Hoffman (we'll hear more from Hoffman on Monday) saying online advertising is B*****T, to Jeff Smulyan saying he's been streaming for 18 years and hasn't made a penny, a lot of the chatter at the Radio Show was about digital -- and that includes NextRadio. One of the digital revenue panels was so packed Thursday morning we couldn't even get in to cover it. Everybody wants to know how to generate revenue from their digital products, and if those that claim they are selling digital are bringing in real dollars or simply swapping them for radio dollars.
In several conversations we had with managers at the show, it was clear radio is still struggling with digital, especially how to monetize the new digital products they have to offer. One manager told us it's not even a debate that budgets that would have been spent on radio are being spent on other digital products. And, she said, advertisers use digital not even sure why or if it's even working for them. It's still the shiny new toy. On the radio side, the challenge for managers is to train and convince their salespeople to sell the new digital products they have to offer. Selling radio commercials is something they are much more familiar with and have had success with, so some need that extra push to bring in the digital revenue that corporate is now expecting every month and every quarter.
NextRadio was everywhere and everyone was talking about it. Radio executives such as Ginny Morris at Hubbard, Cumulus' Lew Dickey, and Digity's Dean Goodman, just to name a few, are fully supportive of Emmis' NextRadio app and excited it will eventually help radio compete for more digital revenue. Of course, the NAB is behind it as well having helped create the product. Out of the approximate 10,900 radio stations on the air in the United States, 10,200 have already been listened to through the NextRadio app, 3,000 every day. The app, without very much consumer promotion, has had about 1 million listening hours in its first year. On a panel Thursday afternoon, Morris said, "Having more radio's in the marketplace is a good thing. We are all in."
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