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Thread: IDEA--automating radio advertising sales

  1. #1

    IDEA--automating radio advertising sales

    (This might infuriate or frighten commissioned ad sales people, so don't read it... or get a box of Kleenex)

    Why haven't ad sales on radio stations been simplified and automated in the software-driven age?

    If radio stations wish to save money on expenditures, the largest expenditure might be commissions. A "plug in" utilizing an ad service might be the next, big step in radio advertising.

    No rubber, no fuss, no surprises.

    A radio station will use the plug-in, or a specific radio automation suite, to describe where they have ad spaces, lengths, prices, etc. Advertisers pick the spaces, upload audio, and pay, and the ads are instantly put into rotation on air. Data on the plug-in service describe ratings, reach, format, etc. etc., along with services to produce audio for ads, hone presentation, etc.

    It's an easy and all-in-one solution!

    There is still need to beat feet and connect to local businesses, etc., but if anyone wants to put ads across nation or even local, they can instantly connect to all the data and rates and possibilities.

    Sales departments might reduce size and expenses reduce drastically. It also reduces paperwork and routing and programming, etc.

    All audio ads would need approval, naturally, by the station manager (or appropriate party), and that alert of a sale and uploaded audio could go directly to an iDevice. The alert would play the file and ask for approval. Quick, easy, avoids hassle.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Houston, Texas
    I suppose that might work with some advertising agencies but even the advertising agency wants something special.

    This would never work across the board. Any station that tried this as it's only means of sales would be bankrupt in no time. And judging by the lack of understanding of sales in the radio business I suspect some operators would welcome automating sales thinking it will turn their dead horse in to a Kentucky Derby winner.

    Here's some basics on sales...

    Most advertising sales are made by
    1) establishing a personal relationship with the client where they know you, you know them, there's a level of trust and respect, and they like dealing with the salesperson.
    2) establishing a need to advertise and then on your station
    3) presenting a campaign the client likes and believes will produce the desired results. Most campaigns come from the salesperson,not the client.
    4) creating a customized package and pricing. The client wants something custom for their business and they want to feel they got a great price
    5) they want communication with the station during and after the campaign, knowing they can adjust where needed if the campaign needs a bit of adjustment.

    Most advertising is sold this way. Businesses do not generally instigate the sale by calling the station. In fact the few per year (5 or less) that might contact a station have no clue what they need and must be educated on creating a campaign and effective schedule. For example, the average restaurant owner does not think their spots should air at a time when decisions on where to grab a meal are made.They just think buy some spots.

    You have to learn about the business, it's presence in the community, how it functions, how it advertises and what has worked. You listen to the client and build campaigns based on this listening.

    Even agency driven buys are frequently made by building a relationship with the buyer representative, demonstrating the plan you have exceeds the mere spot buy and fits the budget and cost parameters making them look good to their client, assuming you are one of the stations that is on the list for a potential buy.

    Even so agency buys are client directed. I used to be pretty good at getting buys in 'one location markets' by establishing the need with local management or the franchisee. For regional and national chains, advertising is not bought on a level playing field for all stores.

    Then the is co-op advertising. The salesperson learns what is available and all the hoops they have to jump through to get the advertising and copy approved (generally before it starts). The salesperson forges a relationship with the respective field representative for the co-op product (ie: Wrangler brand clothing) and can create additional budget by the asking the rep to shift unused dollars that will go unused to an active advertiser in some cases.

    All of this personalizing is why automated sales is a bad idea for radio.

    By the way, I used to manage a fast food restaurant out of high school,before I got in to radio. The salesperson is paid about what a low labor cost would be for an efficient fast food place with one exception, salespeople are paid on commission. That means the client pays or they don't get paid a dime. The support staff is the bigger expense and maybe all the fees from city, county state and federal levels are higher when coupled with maintaining a radio station facility.

    In fact, the salesperson is always the person that gets a slow paying customer to pay and frequently they are the bill collector too. In other words, they go to you face to face to get a check which makes it harder for the slow pay to avoid.

    Sales is competitive. The station that offers the greater customer service, communicates regularly and creates campaigns tailored to advertiser budgets wins. Even for agency buys, staying on the buy sheet isn't only ratings, it's also how the station works with the agency for the benefit of the client. The station that does this gets the buy when several stations might fit the bill.

    Just like the business, the station wins when top of mind awareness is there, something created by the salesperson for the station. If you're the planner at that agency, chances are you go with the station you know and the station that has shown they are working with you to make the look good to the client.

    Plainly put automating sales cannot do this. There are so many variables and there is so much 'human' contact, no matter how intricate a program got, it could never replace the performance of the human.

  3. #3
    Already being done. It's called "programmatic sales," and it's just being offered as an option by some companies:

    Bturner is right, you still need to have boots on the street, but that doesn't mean it's your only approach.

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