I hesitate to challenge a prominent media columnist but…

08 Aug 2018  |  Mark Barber 
I hesitate to challenge a prominent media columnist but…

Dominic Mills’ inference that radio is somehow underperforming digitally gives the wrong impression about a medium that is in rude health. Not that I’m blaming him - inconsistent classifications and the way the data is reported mean it’s easy to end up confused.

‘Digital’ in the context of revenue reporting means different things to different media in a way that makes direct comparisons meaningless.

In this sense Dominic raises an important matter about being more specific in our definitions to ensure fair and accurate evaluation, an issue which a number of media companies (including Radiocentre) are keen to address.

For example, as well as being broadcast on analogue (FM and AM), radio is broadcast digitally via DAB. Most stations are also streamed via IP and some are also available via digital TV.

In creating more spectrum for new station launches providing a greater variety of content for listeners, DAB has played an important role in maintaining robust radio audiences. These have been monetised via traditional airtime selling and therefore are currently reported via WARC as spot advertising.

On connected devices, in addition to bespoke branded content inventory on desktop and mobile, radio has also developed a specialised pure-play digital offering – using listener data to precisely target audio ads and dynamically personalise the creative delivered to them.

These specific elements are reported via WARC as radio digital ad formats, the 5% of total radio revenue that Dominic refers to.

However, with radio’s various digital interfaces delivering just over half of the total audience, there is a case to suggest that 50% of radio revenue from airtime sales could be classified as ‘digital’.

In which context, radio digital revenue share suddenly stacks up very competitively against other ‘legacy’ media such as OOH (50%) and newsbrands (25%), as reported in the article.

Looking beyond the labels, surely the true measure of success is how well a medium is performing overall in a rapidly evolving and challenging marketplace.

With healthy total revenue increases since the end of the global recession in 2009, outperforming overall market growth in six of those nine years, radio has demonstrated that it is flourishing in an increasingly digital media world.

And with the UK media market’s first electronic trading system ‘J-ET’ developing new functionality to make the trading process even smoother, radio revenue – however you define it - looks well-set to continue to thrive.

Mark Barber is planning director, Radiocentre

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