Today's guest blog from our own Paul Jacobs mentions how radio should seize the opportunity to grab advertising dollars from the sinking newspaper industry.
It's the ad revenue generated by the newspaper industry, according to Imran Khan, J.P. Morgan managing director and web analyst. During a presentation last week, he noted that the newspaper industry "is a $40 billion dollar ad market, and that should move somewhere."
But where? Khan's idea is that Internet advertising could scarf up the lion's share of this revenue. I'm thinking differently.
Earlier this month, I moderated a panel at the RAB in Orlando. One of my assignments was to send out Tweets to people who weren't at the conference in order to provide a sense of what was happening, as well as reporting on the burning issues, and the overall mood. It was fun and hopefully, informative, using Twitter as a tool.
But while I was telling you what was happening, I may have missed something that should have been happening. Let me explain. . . . .
From my first day in the radio business I was trained that newspaper was such a big competitor that I would find great leads for new clients by surfing their print ads every morning. It was a great way to learn who was spending ad dollars because every advertiser I encountered believed that they had to be in the paper. And let's face it, they kicked our butt for decades because:
They had the relationships
They had the legacy deals with local and national advertisers.
They had the coupons all to themselves, especially in those fat weekend sections.
That was then, and this is now. And I've got a headline for every radio sales department in America:
NEWSPAPERS ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!
So how come there wasn't a session at the RAB (or anything on their web site that I can find without a password) that focused on what radio's strategy needs to be now that newspapers are shutting down and/or moving their content online?
Newspapers were, and still are, generating a significant amount of revenue that radio should go after. This is potentially the greatest gift to radio revenue in the past 50 years, yet there was no apparent conversation in Orlando inside sessions or out in the hallways about this. Nor have I been inundated with calls from our clients suggesting that we should focus on this opportunity.
I know things are tough and the daily newspaper isn't nearly as thick with ads as it used to be, but understand one thing - newspapers are still profitable. They generate a ton of advertising revenue (virtually all of it local). They're cratering because of the explosion of content online as America shifts from print to digital.
Their product has become commoditized and they weren't able to adjust quickly enough (a warning shot to radio and television as recently discussed in a recent post featuring Bob Garfield).
Let's face it - a lot of the criticism that is being leveled against radio CEOs is unfounded, misdirected, and downright mean. Could they have made better decisions? Did consolidation go to their heads? Were they late on digital? Are they now trying to slash their way to survival while mortgaging their futures? It's easy to answer "yes" to these questions, but they're immaterial given the next big opportunity facing radio.
The main question that needs to be asked right now is "Where's the plan to grab dollars from the Seattle P-I, the Detroit News and Free Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Rocky Mountain News, and others that have or will soon go away? We can't change the past, but we can control our future, and there aren't going to be other opportunities that come our way any time soon.