Internet Radio needs a voice

Yesterday I wrote an article that said it’s time for Internet radio to have an independent association focused on bringing the industry together with the goal of increasing ad dollars. Putting the focus on ad revenue puts a bunch of topics on the table such as audience metrics, creative elements, campaign evaluation and best business practices.

Develop uniformity in the industry

An independent association for Internet radio could work to develop standards in terms of audience and campaign measurement. There are currently two viable audience research sources – Ando Media’s Webcast Metrics and Arbitron. This is acceptable – in website audience measurement there are several players (comScore, Nielsen) as well. But standards should be agreed to and metrics should be assimilated as much as possible.  

The same association could work to educate interactive agencies and advertisers on best practices in terms of creative. Many interactive agencies have never produced an effective audio commercial – that’s obviously a stumbling block for the industry that could be overcome by an association that provided some coaching, gave some examples of successful campaigns, and provided a list of production resources (maybe including stations). And how about an independent group tasked with educating advertisers and agencies on Internet radio?

Advocate accountability

Currently, the agency buying world is divided into two types – traditional agencies that plan and purchase media using gross rating points, and interactive agencies that purchase impressions against cost per thousand pricing and analysis. It’s not difficult to convert campaigns from one type to the other, or present every campaign in both ways. The Internet radio association should develop a tool that works with both sets of data and allows agencies to make this conversion. Once buyers understand the metrics, they’ll be more willing to invest.

Next, establish best practices in reporting and invoicing that lend to transparency and accountability, and build trust with advertisers. The success of interactive advertising relies on delivering a higher level of accountability, and online radio needs to meet those expectations.

At the same time, stations need to be educated. The interactive ad world is a highly measureable and accountable one. Stations need to understand more about ROI calculations, click through rates, and other measurement factors that will be used to evaluate the success of a campaign. Streaming broadcasters in particular are not interactively savvy enough yet. Similarly, many online brands’ sellers are not familiar with the world of the traditional broadcast radio buyer, and need a resource to help them speak that language.

Increase Ad Revenue

There are many players in the Internet radio world, including streaming broadcasters, independent online brands, and very large stand alone brands such as Pandora, Yahoo Launchcast, and even MySpace Music. There’s bound to be things that can’t be agreed on and are better left off the agenda. Focus on the common ground – the desire to promote the flow of dollars for Internet radio. The rest can take shape as the conversation progresses.

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