Radio underappreciated by advertisers: Mark Ritson #CRAConf

Mark Ritson, Adjunct Professor at Melbourne Business School, had wanted to call his session at Melbourne’s 2016 National Radio Conference something different: “How f–ked are you lot? Very f–ked!”

He began by quoting PWC advertiser spending , showing that radio advertising is currently 8.4% of the $15bn Australian advertising market, yet digital advertising is 39%. By 2020, PWC estimate that radio will shrink to 7%, and digital media will account for 51% of all ad spend.

Ritson highlighted that radio has an image problem. “No-one I know who works for radio thinks that radio reaches 94-96%. They think radio’s dying.”

While radio’s revenue is continuing to rise, he said that radio’s positive news is usually hobbled by a picture of an old-fashioned radio set. “There can’t be any stock photos of 1950s radios left,” he said.

He argued that, in the minds of advertisers, digital media is taking over.

Yet, he showed figures for social media engagement from Australia’s biggest brands; and pointed out that they’re tiny numbers. “Minibus-sized audiences”, he called them, adding that “in many cases, these brands have more people in their social media teams than are responding to their tweets”.

According to Experian data, 66% of Australians say they don’t follow any brands on social media at all. He ran his own research, and got a number of 64%.

The numbers for social media, he says, are vastly over-exaggerated – a point he made earlier this year in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In a slide called “Digital Video: a new wave of bullshit” he highlighted the metrics quoted by digital video – comparing the different meaning of “views” in TV and

“3 seconds is, according to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter – a digital view. And on Facebook it’s without sound. And most of the digital views are watched with only a few pixels visible for the viewer. I’m not making this up – that’s a digital view”, he said. “There’s sprinklings of bullshit everywhere with digital video.

[Digital video] is a little, little thing.”

“What you’ve got wrong [in radio]”, he said, not altogether seriously, “is that you measure audiences properly.”

He also cautioned against radio being seen as an alternative to other media. “It’s an ‘and’ game, not a ‘versus’ game”, he said, directing the audience to a Commercial Radio Australia study showing that radio works best when combined with other media.

Ritson left the audience with a number of points to help prepare for 2017:

● There is no such things as “traditional media” any more – most media has a significant proportion of ‘digital’ delivery. Don’t let people put radio in the ‘traditional’ bucket.
● Emphasise the simplicity and independence of Gfk: transparency is important
● Challenge the numbers from digital rivals
● Play the ‘and’ game, rather than the ‘versus’ game.
● Remember how good for brands radio is
His final point, however, was the most welcome for the receptive audience:
● Remember that radio is definitely not f–ked.

So, that’s all okay then.

Reporting: James Cridland


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