The fate of radio advertising?

A friend recently sent me the ad you see below.  It was an advertising promotion for a radio station in my area in which they were giving away free 30 second spots to area businesses.  Is this the fate of radio advertising, and for that matter, other interruption based advertising mediums such as television, cold calling, etc?  


I see the overall concept I think this radio station was going for – use the January advertising campaign as a loss leader to interest people into then paying for radio advertising in the future.  There are some major issues I see with the concept:

  • Radio ads are not easily trackable.  One of radio’s biggest deficiencies is the lack of being able to track it effectively. Sure you can use a specific phone number to respond to or website URL but it still doesn’t effectively measure the impact of the campaign. It is too prone to a prospect forgetting the number or just going to the company’s main website. This begs the question, how do you show the value in buying future advertising if you can’t track it’s effectiveness?
  • It’s a form of interruption advertising that is becoming less effective. Radio ads rely on catching a prospect at the exact right time that they are interested in your product or service.  If your timing is off, they’ll switch the station (the same problem television advertising has).
  • Who’s listening to the radio? Chris Anderson in his Long Tail blog cited a statistic from the Future of Music Coalition that radio listenership was at a 27 year low.  This was almost four years ago – who knows where that number is now.  This shouldn’t be a surprise with the rise in popularity of satellite radio and podcasts in which the listener can avoid advertising.

I continue to watch with interest how the radio, newspaper and television adveritising markets adapt to the changing marketplace.  Radio, however, seems to be lagging behind the other two.

What am I missing something about the future of radio advertising? I’d love to hear about it.

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