RAB's Haley talks expansion of radio delivery


ATLANTA -- Radio Advertising Bureau president Jeff Haley unveiled a bold industry mission to put radio receivers "on every mobile phone, PDA and MP3 player within the next five years" during his keynote speech at the RAB 2008 conference here Feb 12.

Haley didn't elaborate on specifics for the ambitious plan to help move the industry forward by expanding radio's availability. However RAB chairman and Greater Media president/CEO Peter Smyth told R&R that broadcasters are having discussions with device makers who are attracted to the idea because it would increase the menu of entertainment choices available to their customers.

Making radio available on every mobile phone could bring the radio industry an additional $3 billion in incremental revenue, Haley said in his second keynote appearance since replacing Gary Fries in the RAB top spot in Sept. 2006. "We need to be everywhere there is a speaker and headphones," he said.

Haley said there is evidence of demand for radio on additional devices. An FM tuner is the top selling accessory for Apple's iPod, and a survey Microsoft conducted of users of its radio-equipped Zune MP3 player found that 74% of respondents say radio is the main way they discover music.

To tangibly demonstrate how the definition of radio is expanding, Haley played stations from a variety of devices that were set-up up on the stage, including a laptop, a cell phone and an HD radio receiver outfitted with iTunes-tagging, which allows listeners to tag specific songs for later purchase on Apple's iTunes music store. He noted that nearly one in three stations in America is streaming its signal on the Internet and that off-air revenue is growing at an average monthly rate of 10% and is expected to reach nearly $2 billion next year.

Digital will open the doors for radio to deliver targeted advertising messages to individuals at specific locations at specific times, Haley said, "to drive a whole new category of advertising." In addition to tagging songs, HD radio in the future will also enable listeners to tag advertised
products, he added. "We are moving our business forward."

Along with dazzling predictions of radio's digital future, Haley also promised that the industry would adopt posting, a common practice in the TV industry where the ratings a time buy was based on are compared with the audience it actually delivered. The industry needs to develop guideline for the practice, he said, which would presumably lead to audience guarantees for advertisers.

Haley also said radio needs an "action plan" for electronic audience measurement and that it needs to "speak with one voice" on the subject. He said he wasn't advocating a specific position but instead calling on the industry to come together to develop a "unanimous and unequivocally clear position" on electronic measurement.