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Chris Miller

The Corner Of Broadcast And Digital


By Chris Miller

"We continue to see a dramatic increase in spending on online media and it is fundamentally changing the media planning and buying process for advertisers."  That's what BIA/Kelsey VP and Chief Economist Mark Fratrik said in Radio Ink recently. It's forecast that online, digital, and interactive revenue will grow at the rate of 13 percent in 2012, meaning that category will make up over a quarter of the local ad market. To take advantage of that, there are lots of digital sales manager (DSM) positions that didn't exist just a few years ago. This segment of our industry is growing so fast and so unpredictably that a DSM in one market in one company may have a pretty different job from another DSM in another market in another company.

Rebekah Hudson, digital sales manager for the Cox Media Group in Atlanta, is an experienced radio seller who, like many, made the move to digital in the last few years. Hudson says that she works with Cox's sellers "in print [at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution], in TV, in radio, and in digital" to make things happen in a big way. Explaining that she's only been in the job for a several months, she says, "In June, we were up 50 percent over June of last year. And year-to-date, we're up 16 percent."  Much of what she does is coordinate the digital activities of Cox's sellers at their various Atlanta media properties. Cox is a dominant player in the 9th-ranked radio metro, and "I get them to play nice and collaborate together! It's easy [for individual sellers] to lose sight of what's best for the client."

  Hudson's focus on old-fashioned people skills is an asset in a field like digital where everything is constantly changing. "One thing that everyone who gets into digital realizes is that it moves incredibly fast, and there is no way you can know everything. But when you start collaborating, you can find people who know what you need to know. My boss says, 'You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable' if you're going to get into digital."

"We see the wave of the future," she says. "The AJC…our radio stations…TV…are all going to go on creating great content. People are just consuming it differently than before," Hudson summarizes. Royle Johnson, digital sales manager at Alpha Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, clearly would agree with Hudson about where the audience is going. He's driving digital results for direct clients using digital tools, including some exciting work with social media.

 "We've been working on building our Facebook pages," Johnson says; their two most popular Facebook pages, for Country KUPL and Triple-A KINK, both have between 50,000 and 65,000 followers. Johnson's been able to show clients how "we can take our audience and move them over to your page."  Using third-party apps (strictly adhering to Facebook's rules), they've been able to use contesting and special events to make things happen in social media for Alpha's advertisers. Johnson, who moved into digital in the mid-90s after working in the newspaper industry, says with their tools and experience, they've been able to position themselves as consultants who help local direct accounts build business using radio's digital tools. However, even with their knowledge about digital "it's still about selling RADIO…just using digital tools," Johnson explains. "More spots on air, at a higher rate. That's our goal."

There's almost universal agreement among DSMs that a key part of the digital sales puzzle is commitment from top management. As Rebekah Hudson pointed out, you can't know everything and you're going to feel uncomfortable at times. That can cause sellers to focus on other areas if management's not keeping digital on the proverbial front burner. Royle Johnson says that's one thing he checked out before going to work for Alpha. "If this were a case of the tail wagging the dog, I just wouldn't be here." 

Chris Miller has been a major-market PD in Atlanta, Portland and Cleveland. He now operates Chris Miller Digital, which he launched. Visit his website at
Contact Chris via e-mail, or 216-236-3955.

For more articles from Chris Miller go HERE.

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