L’altro giorno leggevo la notizia, ripresa oggi da Newsline, del superamento, in Francia, dei fatturati pubblicitari Internet su quelli radiofonici. E in Francia, badate bene, uno spot radiofonico tende a valere parecchio più che da noi, che la pubblicità siamo abituati a svenderla, non a venderla (con buona pace dei vari presidenti imprenditori). A riportare queste notizie ci ho rinunciato, sono trend ormai consolidati, non ci possiamo fare niente, Internet diventerà più forte della radio, dei giornali e, un giorno, forse anche della televisione (sempre che un giorno sia possibile fare distinzioni tra i mezzi elettronici).
Non posso però astenermi dal citare queat’altra notizia da AdWeek sull’inesorabile contrazione dei fatturati pubblicitari radiofonici negli USA. I dati sono incontrovertibili e ci raccontano di un mezzo che sembra aver rinunciato a combattere.
Di questo parere è l’analista Jim Boyle, di CL King & Associates. Boyle accusa gli editori radiofonici di non voler far nulla per invertire una tendenza che forse può essere contrastata investendo in innovazione (dei programmi e delle iniziative, non delle tecnologie) e in persone. Questo per esempio è il commento apparso su Radio&Records.com a proposito del rapporto appena pubblicato da CL King:
CL King & Associates senior analyst and senior VP Jim Boyle said on Tuesday (Aug. 19) that radio’s July revenue will be down 6%-7% — worse than the Street’s projections of a 4% drop. Either way, it will be the 15th straight negative revenue month. “Radio has entered and seems stuck in a new, discouraging territory with the combined challenges of a secular slide and cyclical recessionary times,” Boyle said in a note to investors.
Boyle also pointed out that in the nearly 40 markets’ data from July he’s analyzed, there’s been a spread of 900 basis points between the average big-market drop and the average small-sized-market revenue increase. In July, the average big market was down 7% and mid-markets were off 5%, while the average small market was up 2%. “The consistently better small-market outperformance continues as radio’s cyclical and secular decline overwhelms the few relative bright spots,” Boyle said. “This might not change when the economy revives.”
Noting that the average radio group guidance for the third quarter is down 5%, he says, “Little good news seems in the offing.” He added that Q1 industry revenue was down 5%, Q2 revenue might have fallen 6%, and while the Street forecasts a Q3 industry revenue dip of only 2%, CL King forecasts a 5% Q3 revenue drop.
Responding to his own question, “What are radio leaders doing to change direction?” Boyle said, “Not much, it seems to us. The industry’s larger groups do not appear ready to institute revolutionary changes yet in sales, programming, promotion or station clusters. There is a notable sense of denial of how harsh the prospects have been and continue to be for radio. The classic CEO reply is that radio is not bleeding as badly as newspapers. We concede there is too little radio ad demand, but there is also too little rate card integrity and too little investment in radio’s product and people for the long-term. It very much looks to us as all rear-guard counter-punching.”
E questo è quanto riportato su RadioInsights di Harker Research
Boyle: Groups Do Not Appear Ready to Institute Revolutionary Changes
Both Inside Radio and R&R Today reprinted the scathing assessment one Wall Street analyst offered regarding the state of radio. The two publications, however, chose to present different spins on the focus of his criticisms. Here’s how Inside Radio chose to summarize CL King & Associates senior analyst Jim Boyle’s comments on their front page on August 20th:
Boyle blasts radio’s largest groups for not doing enough to make the “revolutionary changes” necessary to help radio recover. He says “There is a notable sense of denial of how harsh the prospects have been and continue to be for radio. The classic CEO reply is radio is not bleeding as badly as newspapers. We concede there is too little radio ad demand, but there is also too little rate card integrity and too little investment in radio’s product and people for the long-term.”
Here’s what Inside Radio left out that R&R chose to include:
The industry’s larger groups do not appear ready to institute revolutionary changes yet in sales, programming, promotion or station clusters.
Leaving out one sentence may not seem significant, but one of radio’s problems is that our industry’s leaders (including Inside Radio’s owners) refuse to accept the notion that we are in this fix because of radio’s obsession with cutting costs. While Inside Radio touches on “radio’s product and people,” the focus of the quote is sales. Focusing on sales issues implies that radio is more a victim. Boyle’s criticism is far broader suggesting that the real problem is lack of leadership.
This is not the first time Boyle has criticized radio’s leadership. In 2004 he wrote:
The giant radio platforms, whose execs are spread too thin and are more distant from the local setting, have been under-performers by several operational metrics.
Four years and many budget cut-backs later radio is no better off. Revenues continue to drift southwards with no end in sight. Boyle was right in 2004 and his new assessment is accurate. When radio came under attack by alternative media including satellite and internet radio we failed to respond. Rather than invest and innovate, radio responded by turning program directors into product custodians, cutting programming and marketing budgets, and adding commercial inventory.
Years of cut-backs has proved that radio cannot solve its problems by cutting expenses. Radio will not turn around until it begins to invest to prove to listeners and media buyers that we believe in the product. When will Boyle’s “giant radio platform” leaders finally get the message?
Nell’attesa di avere una risposta a quest’ultima domanda, leggetevi, per ultima, la notizia di AdWeek. E asciugatevi le lacrime, un minimo di dignità perbacco. La radio ha bisogno di idee nuove, dell’impegno anche finanziario degli editori. E’ un mezzo che deve trovare nuove modalità di interazione e integrazione con gli altri mezzi, deve mettersi a esplorare modelli di business innovativi e rinfrescare quelli vecchi. E non sono sicuro che questa esigenza possa esaurirsi con l’adozione di una modulazione digitale al posto di quelle analogiche. C’è soprattutto bisogno di qualità, qualità e ancora qualità, perché anche un pubblico imbolsito da secoli di pessima televisione commerciale riesce a discriminare tra un contenuto ben fatto e una radiofonia messa insieme alla rinfusa, badando solo che un’ora di trasmissione costi il meno possibile, come tutto il resto peraltro. O vogliamo che la radio in cui lavoravano i Gadda e gli Eco faccia la sconcertante fine del nostro giornalismo cartaceo?
Radio Dips 7% in First Half of ’08
Even factoring in a growth in off-air ads, radio advertising continues to struggle
Aug 22, 2008
By Katy Bachman, Mediaweek
Radio continues to be hit by a soft national ad market.
NEW YORK No matter how you spin it, radio’s revenue story is bleak.
Combined local and national spot radio advertising dropped 8 percent in Q2 to $4.6 billion for a 7 percent drop in the first half of the year to $8.4 billion, according to figures released by the Radio Advertising Bureau.
Even factoring in a robust 12 percent growth in off-air advertising to $890 million and a healthy 3 percent climb for network radio to nearly $570 million, radio advertising is still down 5 percent to $9.9 billion at mid-year.
Radio continues to be hit by a soft national ad market with spot sales dropping 11 percent in Q2. For the first half of the year, national spot sales are down 11 percent to $1.4 billion.
Local advertising was only slightly better, down 7 percent in Q2 to $3.8 billion, and down 6 percent to nearly $7 billion for the first half of the year.
While off-air advertising can’t make up the difference, it does represent additional revenue in a time of need. According to the RAB, radio off-air revenue is “exceeding expectations” by increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.3 percent over the past two years. The RAB has forecast off-air revenue, made up primarily of online activity, to pass $2 billion in 2009.
What radio can do to turn around its fortunes is a popular topic among Wall Street and other observers. In a report released earlier this week, Jim Boyle, an analyst with CL King & Associates accused radio of doing little to reverse the negative trends.
“The industry’s larger groups do not appear ready to institute revolutionary changes yet in sales, programming, promotion or station clusters. There is a notable sense of denial of how harsh the prospects have been and continue to be for radio. The classic CEO reply is radio is not bleeding as badly as newspapers,” Boyle wrote.
The RAB’s figures are based on pool of more than 100 markets as reported by the accounting firm of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.