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Local and regional advertising inventory could be sold on electronic platforms now. On online booking platforms nationwide or even around the world. Digitally in media mixes or exclusively for radio/audio advertising. It's not rocket science from a technical standpoint, and we are working hard at it.  

Permanently selling more advertising inventory in which supply meets a humongous national or even global demand electronically, simply and fast, is one thing. The other: earn more money doing it! By enriching the inventory electronically with a variety of advertising-related data and thus improving the quality. Yes, we are talking about higher CPTs and not fewer, as some fear.

I don't mean just general media data on reach, listeners, and listener behavior, etc. I also mean valuable local and regional additional information like e.g., the program environment, festivals and other local events that advertising can reference. Even daily or hourly current events like the weather, the outcome of a local derby or the current traffic situation can be used electronically for tailoring advertising spots for a perfect fit. In real time and, of course, entirely automatically.  

It goes without saying that advertising inventory that has been correspondingly "boosted" can also be sold at a higher price. In the best case, radio publishers even earn more money with less advertising thanks to data driving advertising – for the benefit of their program and presumably for the listening pleasure of their audiences.  

Thus, the better the advertising inventory is equipped with relevant additional data, the more pinpoint advertising can be placed, and the more money can be asked for the inventory.  

The software solutions needed are already out there and are already being used successfully, for example, in Switzerland. On several stations, different spots for one and the same product are exchanged fully automatically, depending e.g., on the weather, sports events or Google trends. A new technology and a new business model that would also be able to be implemented in Germany (and other countries) immediately, both for the national as well as for the local and regional advertising market.  

But. When countless providers start in the near future to compete for the budgets of advertisers on the digital audio marketplace, the features and the quality of the inventory will be even more decisive for success. I like to compare the booking platforms used throughout Germany and even globally with a large ballroom. If you're going to step foot into it, you need to have prettied yourself up for a party, putting it shine to the most valuable jewels to be able to stand out from the crowd. In our case, by analogy, with as much local and regional advertising-related data as possible that are available electronically. 

Naturally, the best inventory won't help, nor the most popular show and the greatest advertising placement, if the spot is bad. And, with respect, there are far too many lousy and monotonous radio commercials out there. I think the image of the entire industry suffers from it.  

And this brings me to the subject of content quality, not (just) in regard to the radio publishers' program, but also the advertising. Let me at this juncture go to bat for more quality in audio advertising and content production.  

And I'll bat for the flexibility of campaigns, entirely in line with programmatic and data driven advertising. The digital adherents are setting a standard. They are impressively proving that an increase in production does not necessarily have to go hand in hand with higher costs, but can also be achieved with more efficient, decentralized, collaborative and automatic production. This will become all the more important because pinpoint coordinated advertising needs more commercials than in the past.  

Take the car maker advertising a new model, for example. When the sun is out and shining, for example, a commercial for the convertible version is broadcast fully automatically as well a spot for a station wagon prior to the start of the summer holidays and one for the standard model when the temperatures plunge. These commercials could be differentiated further and be recorded in different dialects for different regions, for example, and/or include references to various local car dealerships, etc. then would then also be broadcast fully automatically in the correct broadcasting area in each case.  

It would seem logical that these ever more complex processes – both in regard to production as well as to distribution and broadcasting – can no longer be visualized manually. These commercials must not only be distributed automatically, but also produced "automatically", meaning with electronic support, decentralized and as part of a network.  

To do so we need tools that put us in a position to produce the same spot in many different versions in a network, e.g., consisting of the narrator from Vienna with an Austrian accent, the narrator from Hamburg or Kiel with a northern German accent and many other participants from the sound engineering to the final cut. The ability to produce the same product fast and flexibly in excellent audio quality. That is the advantage of radio.  

I am afraid that if radio forgets its strength – and with that I mean the strength with which the medium was established 100 years ago, namely content and quality – then radio could actually go under. But if radio deliberately uses its strength, relies on quality as a means of setting itself apart from the arbitrariness of a number of streaming services, then radio has a great future. I am convinced of it.  

Yours, Nico Aprile

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