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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Missing Link

Gen Y Americans (those aged between 18 and 26) spend 12.2 hours online every week, 28% longer than 27-40-year-old Gen Xers and almost twice as long as 51-61-year-old Older Boomers. Gen Yers are also much more likely to engage in social computing activities while online.

Inside these powerful numbers is a key for terrestrial radio - or any business with the need to capture this moving target demographic. There are a handful of broadcasters who understand not only the need to pursue Gen Y, but also who have begun to figure out that the Internet is a god-send. Up until very recently, it has been difficult, at best, for any marketer to capture the attention of the all-too-critical 18-26 year old consumer. But they live on the Internet. They are mobile consumers most of the time, but when they sit still for 12 hours a week in order to surf on-line, the opportunity to reach them is glaring.

2006 was the year in which traditional radio discovered they needed to get traction in their efforts to attract Gen Y back to traditional media. There are those who say this generation is lost forever to traditional media, but they really are referring to the early adopters and innovators among this group who are the leading edge of those who have gravitated away from traditional radio, for example, because there was/is nothing of compelling substance for them. Well folks, it's not too late.

By our observations of the entire spectrum of 18-26 year olds (38 million of them), the dark ages of traditional radio are far from evident. 17% or 6.5 million Gen Yers have mentally committed to new technologies that have replaced traditional media. MP3 players and the Internet consume most of this commitment and they will be difficult to re-attract. But 83% of this group, in our analysis, is either still listening to traditional radio or is sharing their listening with new technologies. It is this group broadcasters should target.

2007 should be the year of re-investment by traditional broadcasters in their products (radio stations). There are a few broadcast companies that never stopped doing this and whether small or large, these companies - over the long term - are profitable companies which attract excellent talent and management and...they are winning. They believe in spending money today even though it may mean less profitability in the short term in order to insure a more stable workforce environment and an on-air product that caters to the local community and gets results for its advertisers.

The word "courage" is found at the core of what is missing from much of the management employed at today's broadcast companies. There really is a shortage of people who have the quality of mind or spirit that enables them to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. It's a trait lost on many but it is one that is sorely missing from management skill sets.

If you are in a position to hire, motivate and direct your workforce, look for courage as an asset along with the other skills you require of your managers. Finding courage in yourself and reflecting it back on your staff is the missing link to sustaining and protecting the future of traditional media.

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