MEDIA: SPOTLIGHT ON: RADIO ADVERTISING; Will post-campaign analysis change radio for the better?

Alasdair Reid on whether greater transparency can take radio to new heights

Alasdair Reid on whether greater transparency can take radio to new


Who says the recent Dublin radio convention was no more than a jolly for

the radio industry? By all accounts, there was a lot more than Guinness

on the agenda. And the industry made real progress in one area - the

decision to launch an industry-wide post-campaign analysis system next

month (Campaign, 3 November).

Agencies and advertisers will now receive confirmation that all the

spots they asked for were actually transmitted. And the system will

confirm the time when each ad was broadcast. Cynics say that it should

have been done years ago. They have a point, too. Simple matters like

whether you’ve been given what you’ve paid for shouldn’t really involve

an act of faith.

But radio is a very diffuse medium and collating this sort of

information from hundreds of stations is a daunting task. It’s easy for

national stations - Classic and Virgin have been doing it for some time

- but getting ILR stations to agree to the scheme is a coup.

Finding a way of making the initiative work will be an even bigger

achievement. The Association of Independent Radio Contractors is

currently thrashing out the practical details.

But what difference will it make to the way that radio is bought and

sold? Andrew Oldham, the sales director of Media Sales and Marketing,

says that the main benefit will be increased confidence in the medium.

‘Advertisers have been pumping more revenue into radio,’ he points out.

‘Transparency and accountability will help them feel more comfortable.

But I don’t think it has radical implications for the way that airtime

is traded. I don’t think it will make radio more like a TV sell. On TV

you buy against specific programmes. On radio it’s the general

relationship between the station and the audience that’s more


Robert Ray, deputy managing director of the Media Centre, agrees that

radio won’t become like the TV market in the near future, but it will

certainly begin to move in that direction.

‘The ratings data is derived on a quarterly basis, so in that respect it

will still be very different from TV,’ he argues. ‘But there will

certainly be a greater pressure on sales houses to guarantee where they

will place spots.

‘Greater accountability could lead to far more sophisticated trading

systems. It wouldn’t be beyond the bounds of possibility to see them

developed, though there might be resistance from some of the smaller


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