Inside The Beta Test of Google Radio Ads

AdWords customers involved in beta testing are experiencing a new kind of radio advertising sales. The AdWords system is similar to the online ad selling approach Google has made its name and profit from. Prospective radio advertisers -- and this could be companies or individuals who have never advertised on radio or thought of radio as an advertising medium -- can bid on the spots and target their ads by time of day, demographics, format and location. The advertisers see instant reports. Google is also working on a program that will refer new advertisers to people who can help them write copy and produce ads -- something like the radio has done for years when the salesperson brings the order back to the station with some copy ideas. It takes about 12 hours to get results on the bidding. Some people report that a minimum of $100 a spot was established and the bids are often higher (radio, learn your lesson. Set high minimum prices and the market will go from there). In other words, no cheap ads. Google has thought of everything including setting up a system for ad agencies and fielding a force of sales people (often ex-radio salespeople) to beat the bricks looking for business.

You can see why radio owners love this concept. It's for lazy people. It's cheap. No expenses. No employee benefits. No rent. No autos. No selling! No kidding! I've said it before and I'll say it again, a declining radio industry pressured with having to cut expenses to impress Wall Street has to love the potential of Google AdWords. So I'll be on the record early and often adding: be careful what you wish for, you may get it. Once radio sales becomes a commodity, the only people who could love it are media companies looking for easy money that are willing to give up control of their marketing to a bigger, smarter company -- Google. For radio, the short term results will be as expected. The long term results will not be pretty.