Stop Bonusing Digital By Andy Meadows

When we’re launching a station, or one of our existing stations is suffering to sell terrestrial inventory, its tempting to cut our rates drastically and sell spots for whatever we can get for them. Its an understandable decision, after all something is certainly better than nothing. But, as anyone who’s ever been a part of selling dollar-a-hollar spots will tell you, the long-term downside is that it makes it incredibly hard to ever get those rates up. 

I fear many groups are currently making that same mistake with their digital inventory by continuing to bonus it or sell it at a fraction of what it’s really worth. As I’ve written in the past, if its not already here, the day is soon coming when our terrestrial signals will mainly be used to bark about our digital platforms. TV has already gotten that message loud and clear. If you watch the Discovery channel for more than a couple commercial breaks you’ll see several promos pushing you to stop watching them live and switch over to their Discovery Plus streaming platform. Discovery is following a long-term vision. 

The future of our industry is providing our radio content, and additional digital content, on as many platforms as possible and finding creative ways to integrate our advertisers into each of those platforms with us. To do so we’ll need to empower and train our terrestrial content creators to be multi-platform content creators that understand how to best use each platform to drive traffic to another by creating exclusive content that’s tailored to that specific platform. 

But, none of that will lead to significant revenue growth if we’re having to drag the bulk of our client base up from paying $0 for digital inventory, that’s bundled with overpriced terrestrial, up to reasonable rates for said digital inventory. That growth will also be hampered greatly if we’ve gone the other way and just given up on selling our digital inventory locally and chosen to Nascar out our digital assets by letting third party providers sell it to tons of cheesy pay per click clients. 

Radio station websites are our most valuable digital asset, because unlike social platforms, our website are ours and ours alone. Its our hub for connecting and communicating with our listeners and providing them with additional exclusive content, contesting, local resources, info and entertainment. Plus, they’re a great tool for collecting listener data we own. Our apps and online streams are a close second despite often being neglected and under-engineered, followed by podcasts that are the simplest way for trained broadcasters to translate their skills to digital content. Social is still an incredible promotions and marketing tool that can be used to drive massive traffic to our on-air and online products. 

The growth potential for radio in 2021 and beyond is digital. So, its time for us to start valuing and investing in those digital assets and pricing them accordingly now so we have less of a hole to dig out of down the road. 

What do you think? Comment below or email me at

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