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Radio Gets Honest About Attribution Challenges – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Radio Gets Honest About Attribution Challenges

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I’ll give Bob Pittman and David Field an “A” for honesty at this year’s Radio Show in Orlando.  During a Tuesday panel session the CEOs provided a blunt assessment of broadcasters’ challenges at proving attribution, especially compared to digital platforms.

I wasn’t at this year’s conference (somehow my invite got lost 🙂 ), but I’ll give you a direct quote from RadioInk which pretty much sums up the conversation.  “David Field says radio shows up to a gun fight with a knife. That we are the Rodney Dangerfield of media. ‘Digital is dealing with bits, brand safety and fraud. We don’t have an effectiveness issue. We have an attribution issue and we’re getting better and delivering data at scale.’”  (Trust me on this – there’s never a time when any industry should refer to itself as the Rodney Dangerfield of anything.)

All joking aside, radio advertising probably does work better than marketers give it credit for.  It’s also correct that harnessing audience data is the key to assigning full attribution credit.  But the real question for radio is how to do it.  As a broadcast media measured by a combination of people meters and paper diaries, there’s no way to know exactly who heard an over-the-air commercial.  So if you can’t prove someone heard an ad, how can you connect ad exposure to a purchase made?  In all the years of radio complaining that they don’t get the credit they deserve, I’ve never heard a solid answer to this question without employing some watered-down probabilistic model.  But I guess admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?


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