Written Apr. 1, 2011 by Sean Ross in Advertising + Internet Radio + Terrestrial Radio with 0 Comments
The issue of how radio stations fill their stopsets on their Webstreams has gotten a lot of trade press this week as an increasing number of industry observers take up our call of the last four years. Some of that, undoubtedly, is because the issue is being put in sharper relief -- hearing six minutes of dire-sounding PSAs and bad fill music never sounded good, but it sounds worse now that radio is competing with pureplays that typically run only a few units an hour.
As an avid consumer of terrestrial radio online, the stopset issue has gotten better over the last four years. The worst practices of today are about equivalent to the best practices of four years ago and everybody has improved proportionately. If you were running the same two pieces of fill music over and over four years ago, now you are probably filling with PSAs. If you were interrupting the "stress free workday" to remind listeners repeatedly that their children are at risk, you've may have upgraded to a paid spot or two and a fill song.
That doesn't solve some of the larger issues, of course. If you fill up a six-minute Web-stop with twelve :30s, as I recently heard on one station that seemed to be running a mix of paid spots and promos for co-owned Websites, it's still 12 units (perhaps 24 an hour) vs. a pureplay's three. But it's not actively exacerbating the problem as we were a few years ago.
One possible solution? I still feel that we will utimately have to re-open the issue of selling sponsorships, not spots, as a way of sporting a competitive spotload. But if that's easier said than done today, would it at least be possible to fill with music or other station content and sell it to one sponsor. After all, it's unlikely that all the units in a six-minute Webstop are sold anyway. And any advertiser who bought an entire stop would get the sort of share-of-mind among streamies that now goes to McGruff the Crime Dog and the Red Defender.