Google Radio "AdNonsense"

Imagine what some geniuses who have ruined radio through consolidation have in store for their medium next.

Selling unused inventory (as they call it) via Google's AdSense biding system.

Tomorrow, reduce the sales force and cut costs as Google makes selling radio sales as easy and inexpensive as selling any commodity.

Beyond that, the world!

It's all in the very experimental stage for Google, for radio and for advertisers.

We are on the brink of moving beyond (or should I say below) the world of vacuum cleaner sales in radio.

I'm not saying that some radio stations I have known didn't have questionable sales skills but most are pretty damn good and very professional.

Just like every other "damn good" professional in radio, they are going to be invited to leave if this Google "AdNonsense" idea takes hold.

In a way, one part of me would like to see it gain traction so the consolidators could salivate over selling their airtime without effort or expense. Then those doubters among us would see pay back when the market place might bid down radio spots -- as they have a way of bidding almost everything else down.

But most of us love radio too much. Let's just say it was an evil thought.

The declining radio industry is not exactly saying no to the concept of selling radio like a commodity. Some groups including industry leader Clear Channel are testing the waters. Far be it for me to insinuate that Clear Channel would even think of treating radio stations like a commodity.

I remain unmoved by the assurances of Google and some radio groups that "AdNonsense" would pull in advertisers radio is not currently attracting.


Maybe not.

But at what price. Or should I say -- what unit price. Let the bidding begin.

Radio sales as we know it will be over if eBay and Google can sell radio by bidding. The art of salesmanship -- whatever that has become during radio consolidation -- is on its way out.

I agree with Citadel CEO Farid Suleman who didn't mince words in reminding the industry recently what trouble it would be in if it allowed radio sales to be turned into a c0mmodity available for bid to the lowest advertiser.

Radio needs to own up a little bit here. Even before consolidation, the industry operated on incredibly small sales staffs.

The reality that the major broadcast groups did not at any point significantly grow the size of their sales staffs, improve selling skills and develop a stronger national sales organization is evidence enough that radio really wants this eBay and Google stuff to work.

I am aware that lots of industry execs will dismiss the idea that salesmen will go away anytime soon.

Please remember that this is the same industry that always insisted that jockless stations would never replace live personalities. And look what happened.

Look what's going to happen when Clear Channel goes private. Think you hear a lot of virtual voice tracking now -- just wait.

This from an industry that preached the virtues of consolidation as a benefit for the average listener and advertiser.


I guess fewer jocks could been seen as a benefit of consolidation, right?

I'm reminded of the time when Mel Karmazin was in terrestrial radio (either CBS, Infinity or whatever the name was at the time). He ordered up a massive hiring of salespeople. The knock on it was that if the candidate had a pulse they had a job -- a job working for 100% commission. Some of the best salespeople in the world will only work on 100% commission. So do some of the worst.

For a while -- a short while.

I always liked the idea of expanding sales staffs, but think it could have been improved if stations paid more attention to who they were hiring.

And train them, for God's sake. Don't just send them out on the street like an Electrolux salesman. (Do Electrolux salesmen still sell door-to-door?).

What you're watching -- in my opinion -- is the official beginning of the fall of radio as an entertainment medium and the beginning of "let's make a deal".

If the radio industry could have written a worse ending, I don't know what it could have been. I thought consolidation was bad enough.

Internet radio, on the other hand, is a commodity where it presently exists and competes. Its future may very well involve a Google or eBay. The average streamer may not be able to field a sales staff. So Internet radio might thrive with bid-for-airplay commercials while terrestrial radio may suffer.

Even though many people have a hard time understanding how resolute the next generation is about not needing radio -- in a head-to-head battle with Internet streaming -- terrestrial radio looses every time. And dismiss them for being young or being students, but lots of them graduated in June and another ton of them graduate next June -- to jobs, families, having families, buying consumer goods. Radio is dead without them.

There is no benefit to terrestrial operators to even have a small part of their unsold inventory treated as a commodity.

They will discover this too late -- as they have on other major issues -- to their continuing disadvantage.

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