Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Playing 'bop' is like playing scrabble with all the vowels missing." Duke Ellington

"Foolproof systems do not take into account the ingenuity of fools." Gene Brown

"Without music, life would be a mistake." Nietzsche

Today's image: Ode to Ansel Adams by Thomas Hawk. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Confusing activity with progress

The temptation is to be seduced by activity, seduced into believing that activity is progress. It's not.

Activity and progress should be related, accepting the imperfect correlation; progress being measurable movement toward the objective, the productive outcome of that activity which proves effective.

The key is measurement and coming to terms with measure as the arbiter.

Establish a solid feedback loop and act on the findings. Understand what's working, what's not working and constantly change up the game to improve the result.

Inertia and incrementalism are the enemies. As discussed here previously, it's the strategy trap of focusing exclusively on the numerator. The real leverage is in changing the denominator.

One needs to come to grasp the new reality and to get a deep understanding of the developing sea change - the rock n roll of this generation is interactive media. The digital natives are not playing by our rule sets, they're choosing to do what we once did, they're making it up from scratch. This does ensure one new practice to be the safe and conservative best bet - the smart guys are putting their five year operating plan on a magic slate.

To get some perspective, let's look at some big numbers.

The US measured media ad spend in 2007 was about $149 billion [TNS]. The direct marketing spend in 2007 was about $173 billion [DMA]. The subtotal being $322 billion ($1.8 b FSI dollars duplicated in the TNS data).

RAB put US radio in 2007 at $21.3 billion (RAB measures are significantly different than TNS for radio). TVB using TNS data placed 2007 US broadcast TV at $46.5 billion. IAB posted 2007 online revenues at $21.2 billion. The subtotal being $89 billion.

Then there are all those other guys. Let's take one.

The promotional products industry captured more than $18.8 billion in 2006 expenditures [PPAI]. That's a bunch of money to promote products, services and companies one coffee mug, mouse pad or free sample at a time.

Get this - there are more than 20,000 promotional consultant firms in the US alone and that's 2007 data. Compare that to the 17,412 radio and television stations now on the air. Dividing broadcast by two, as a very rough estimate, equals a ground game of 8,706 vs 20,000. PPAI, the promotional products trade association, is older than broadcasting, they celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2003.

We won't even get into product placement, restroom ads or gaming. The point is, by any measure, there's an incredible amount of money in play. Why think small in a space this big.

My suggestion is radio teams should be playing for more than their share of $21.3 billion, TV staffs should be fighting for more than their piece of the $46.5 billion.

The real opportunities, the big money and growth are outside the silo, it's supplemental by nature, it's real off the rez biz dev stuff. That's where you'll discover progress. Inside the silo, it's all activity. Growth vs stasis and entropy. Denominator vs numerator. Why spend time and valuable resources getting better at a game that is being played less and less. Change the game.

Every platform counts, no single one being more important than the other in share of mind or agenda. It's not about radio or TV. It's about audio, video and all things interactive. My notion is no professionals are better positioned to reinvent audio and video, to reimagine wireless than broadcasters, the first and second tribes of wireless. In the emerging worlds of pro-am development incredible opportunities abound. It's a leadership issue, we need to get serious and compete for the future. Incumbency is increasingly irrelevant, we need to employ the remaining leverage we have and do it now. Use it or lose it may sound like high drama but you may wish to think again about that before dismissing the potential window of opportunity now present.

No, it's not the job you signed up for but it's the one at hand. What's needed now is imagination and game-changing innovation. The great news is the bigger than you can possibly imagine payoff is prospectively available for the taking and it's right here - outside your silo. See ya there.

Getting the band back together: WLS, The Big 89 Rewind. Kudos to radio programming ace Kipper McGee.

Don't miss it, if you can: Impresario Bruce Ravid rides into MadTown tomorrow and takes temporary control of transmission at radio station WSUM. Certain to be more memorable moments of Madison media madness, join the famous '74 grad as he kicks off the 7-hour Raveathon beginning at 1pm tomorrow. To ensure the high standards WSUM listeners have come to expect (and for Bruce's own personal safety), students and station staff will be on hand to observe and participate. For locals it's 91.7 FM, while the world tunes in via stream here. My thanks to radio programming ace Tom Teuber for the advanced warning.

Congrats & cheers: Advertising ace David Verklin signed to lead Project Canoe, the cable tv industry initiative tasked with creating new approaches to targeted sales. Expect the announcement next month. Caroline Marks signs on as GM of the yet to launch IAC news aggregator site headed by the uber-cool Tina Brown. Tom Taylor celebrates one year of posts at Radio-Info.