It’s Time To Fix Radio’s Commercial Problems: And Here’s How

It’s Time To Fix Radio’s Commercial Problems: And Here’s How

by Tracy Johnson

Radio’s commercial problems continue. The ads have been horrible for awhile now. But it’s becoming a crisis. And at some stations, the ads make up nearly 25% of programming time.

Listeners know we have to play some. They accept that. They’re actually quite forgiving. Even millennials. But do the commercials have to be so painful? Do the stop sets have to be so long? Does every station have to break at the same time? It’s time to fix the commercial problems.

One of the issues is creative input in production. The copywriters disappeared years ago. They’ve been replaced by account executives writing commercial copy for clients. It’s horrible.

Another is the sheer number of units. As revenue decline, we keep adding more. More avails doesn’t mean more advertisers or bigger budgets. It means lower rates, which opens to the door to a lower class of advertiser. Usually not the ones who have great spots. Radio has become a steady stream of per-inquiry ads, mattress stores and pawn shops. And it’s horrible.

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Radio commercials are painful to listen to. And it doesn’t need to be this way. Here’s some hope for the future.

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A third issue is the tendency of each station to schedule stop sets at exactly the same time. I know they’re trying to game the ratings system, but what we’re really doing is running listeners off the medium. One station plays commercials. The audience tries to escape the pain, and all other choices are playing the same spots.

And I haven’t even mentioned the 15, 18 or 20 (or more) minutes of commercials running every hour.


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