The Digital Signage Insider

Digital Signage Owners Could Learn from Clear Channel Advertising Changes

Published on: 2004-10-13

A number of creative digests have picked up a tidbit from your favorite radio monopoly and mine, Clear Channel Communications.  Apparently the owner of over 1,200 US radio stations is feeling the effects of a weak advertising market, especially since radio ads are often the first to get sacrificed when companies tighten their sales and marketing belts.  One might expect that a media firm hoping to boost its earnings would be inclined to add more advertising to popular radio shows and music segments.  But in fact, Clear Channel is planning just the opposite, hoping to reduce spotloads by 20% by January 2005.

For radio listeners this comes as good news, since the current status quo is about 8 minutes of commercials in every half hour of airtime.  (Yes, satellite listeners, you have it good).  But it's even more interesting than reducing the amount of advertising.  One of the biggest reductions that Clear Channel hopes to realize is in the use of 60-second ads.  Since many radio stations often sell 60-second spots for only 20-25% more than a 30-second spot, advertisers often opt for the longer format to help get their message across.  However, as radio ads are fleeting and only appeal to one sense (hearing), they are notoriously difficult to write, especially in a shorter format.  That's why Clear Channel is also launching a new Creative Resources Group that will provide free creative services assistance to clients to help them write more effective ad content.  Their goal is to make each spot persuasive but not offensive, and they're particularly focused on getting advertisers to use the shorter 30-second format.

Digital signage network owners should sit up and take notice of this for a number of reasons.  First of all, for those who are running captive audience networks supported by ad revenue, it's important to remember that sometimes less is more.  If your screens are placed in locations where people might be lingering for a long time (say more than 10 minutes), you might be better off running a larger radio of content to ads.  All signage owners should take into consideration the lengths and formats of the content segments being displayed on their screens (and don't forget to have a call to action).  And last but not least, as Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan notes, local advertisers can account for up to 80% of a radio station's annual revenues.  So while you might be drooling over the prospect of signing Coke or Pepsi to a national deal on your signage network, don't thumb your nose at local businesses who might provide better near-term revenue opportunities.


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