Where next for commercial radio?

Radio player images

The latest Rajar figures , Absolute Radio’s sell off and increasing consolidation have signalled a warning to commercial radio in the UK in 2013.

A few things have shaken the radio landscape in the last 8 or so years. Radio can no longer rely on exclusive access to playlists, a limited choice of in-car entertainment, live travel info and apathy towards moving the dial. There’s more choice of listening from non-linear sources and more utility via digital devices. Research consistently tells us that these choices are where younger people turn to instead of radio. Add to this the 4g spectrum, bringing with it the disruptive impact of the broadband web to cars and transit, then there’s a perfect storm to unsettle radio.

The BBC have made enormous efforts to move from a linear led offering, to on-demand, multiplatform audio brands. The commercial sector however has been much slower to move; partly due to costs and partly due to prioritising where advertisers see the greatest value. Now that the advertisers are required to gain more measurable and targeted results, a significant surge in online advertising has moved money away from previously trusted print and radio. The cost of not doing, is now outweighing the cost of doing effective digital offerings for radio broadcasters.

Rather than doom and gloom-monger, what are some possible ways in which commercial radio can still prosper?

1 – Work with advertisers to create more entertaining and effective marketing – to avoid switching off listeners.

Annoying adverts are the biggest reason why people switch to BBC stations. Having to carry ads is the biggest compliant from commercial broadcasters who struggle against the BBC stations. So why not make radio adverts better, even enjoyable? Most are clumsy, grating and on too loud. TV adverts can be as interesting as the programmes, with great film-makers showcasing their talents on adverts first. Why isn’t this the case for radio? Continue reading