Managing Disruption

While preparing for a recent meeting, I came across this cartoon:

Managing Disruption

It epitomizes the changing media landscape of today.  You have read all about that point in many different places, so redundancy here is not my intention. This is about managing disruption. Radio has been disrupted many times since its inception.  And survived.  However, the challenges of the past – TV, the Walkman, MTV, Satellite Radio, and the iPod – did not impact radio to the extent the Internet and mobile devices do today. Interesting though, “internet and mobile” were not designed to disrupt radio.  The others actually were. The technology available today has changed every facet of our lives – in both a business and personal context.  The reason is quite simple.  When used properly, technology makes us more productive, efficient and effective. We once marveled at The Jetsons, thinking “Imagine if we could do that.”  Today we mostly can.

So what does this have to do with streaming?

Our company provides a specific set of tools to anyone who wants to publish audio.  Like most technology these products are there for the disruptors and the disrupted.  Some use these capabilities in a defensive manner – and as such are likely facing disruption. Others use them to go on the offensive – to be the disruptor rather than the disrupted – even if it means disrupting themselves.  That is the critical point.

Defending during disruption rarely wins because it is not a battle of one product vs. another.  Rather, it is a change in the battlefield itself.  And you can’t fight the battlefield.  You need to adapt to it.

Adapt by playing offense, meaning use the latest tools of engagement and monetization to better serve the audience and the advertisers.  Think of all the things you brainstormed over the years in programming, sales, and marketing meetings.  “Imagine if we could…” Again, today you likely can.

The reason some play defense or don’t optimize their digital tools is because “there is not enough revenue”.  I have heard this many times and it is usually followed by “we stream because we have  to”.  This mindset is a clear sign that disruption is not being managed, and instead steering toward real danger.

Think about this very simple point.  There is no such thing as “digital dollars” or “radio dollars”.  There are only “dollars”.  Each advertiser has a single and finite budget.  They allocate that budget into the different media sectors they believe will best serve their needs.  The “digital” spend is dramatically increasing because traditional and new media are using online and mobile capabilities to create more compelling and effective programs for advertisers.  They also create greater accountability.

So optimize your online audio assets. Better engagement means better results for advertisers.  They win.  You win.

The dollars may be small at first.  But you will be preparing your business to cross over the bridge of disruption well prepared for the road ahead.