Two Evil Empires

Clear Channel and Google are perfect together.

Clear Channel, the media giant that gave consolidation a bloody nose is teaming up with Google, the Internet monster that is aiming to give its competitors a bloody nose.

Forgive me, but this sounds like two evil empires working together to further their need to dominate the media business.

Clear Channel hasn't been able to convince its shareholders that they should pay a low ball price to get their approval to sell and go private, but it was able to announce a deal with kindred spirit Google to give up high quality radio inventory over the next three years -- all 30 second spots (60's and 10's come later) on about 675 stations -- the ones that will be retained if the shareholders say yes. That's a big win for Google the other company that has its eyes on domination.

These two conglomerates are starting to look alike.

Google may be flirting with antitrust action in its $3.1 billion purchase to acquire online ad server DoubleClick, another part of its take over the world strategy and a key player in the AdSense strategy.

Microsoft, no stranger to antitrust issues, is screaming bloody murder. Google already owns Dmarc, an enabling company to allow its plan to sell radio advertising to the great unwashed.

What a deal!

Businesses that don't already advertise on radio (wink, wink) go to Google and pick their radio markets and then click and pay. It's all so simple.

Now imagine a real radio salesperson -- you know, the kind that has a relationship with an advertiser -- walking in and saying, "how'd you like to buy some radio ads on my stations, but you can't choose which stations."

How fast would their sorry butts be shown the door.

Sounds like a concept that an Internet company would think up.

If so, why is a radio company -- Clear Channel -- going along with it?

My theory is that most radio companies see the handwriting on the wall. Like their brethren in the record business the vultures are circling overhead. These companies must be desperate to get revenue if they are selling prime inventory as a commodity and soft peddling the lack of relationships in the deal.

Easy come.

And you know what's next.

Easy go.

It is sad to see radio reduced to having to build a model that includes "no relationship" selling.

But these two giants deserve each other. Their eyes are bigger than their sense of responsibility. I don't want to sound cosmic like Shirley MacLaine here, but even hockey players shake hands after they knock each others teeth out. These Evil Empires are looking to put the hurt on traditional media companies and isn't Clear Channel a traditional media company?

Oh, well, maybe not.

I've heard of non-traditional revenue but this is ridiculous.

Let me spell it out.

Radio was a wonderful and abundant free cash flow business.

Who is buying that the Google radio advertisers are not the ones radio companies currently sell to? If Clear Channel could sell all its inventory without a sales force why am I kind of believing that they would?

So, enjoy as the two mega companies slice and dice their competitors and come up with half-cocked ideas for saving radio.

Radio should embrace technology.

Radio should be local.

Radio should be diverse.

Radio should sell advertising to people. Smart people who buy specific stations, not who play Russian Roulette among a handful of stations in each market.

And remember, if an advertiser can easily click and buy, then they can easily click and say, bye bye.