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September 19, 2014

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6/12/00 I Hate To Say "I Told You So," But ...
ďEric, our business is down more than 30 percent in the last 30 days. Dot-coms that were throwing baskets of money at us arenít spending any money this month. If this doesnít turn around, Iím not sure that we can recover."
It was only a few months earlier that this same GSM had been boasting about blowing off loyal, 10-year clients because the dot-coms were willing to spend three times the rate. That day, I had listened patiently to his stories about waiting lists for airtime and virtual auctions for avails, as dot-coms preempted one another with higher rates.
He had been proud that traditional Radio advertisers hadnít been able to compete with the dot-comsí needs to spend recklessly. "Now theyíre going to see what a great deal they had ó serves íem right."
Following a long and uncomfortable silence, the GSM said, "You told us this would happen." I allowed myself a small smile. But instead of asking me how to woo his old Radio advertisers back, he asked if I had any strategy for "getting back the dot-com dollars." My sad, deluded friend had been living in Camelot and didnít want it to end.
Just six months ago, Radio stations in small and medium markets were groaning, "Why arenít we getting any dot-com dollars?" Few understood that those millions were being spent in pivotal markets in a desperate attempt to influence the Internet elite ó venture capitalists, Wall Street investors and the press. Those same small- and medium-market operators are thankful now that they didnít blow off their core advertisers for a few flash-in-the-pan big spenders.
Now, Web-based businesses are being forced to prove that they can operate in reality, watch their bottom lines and make a profit. Not all of them will be able to do it. Weíre about to see a time of frantic consolidation as some of the biggest Web brands fail and are merged into others. Only a few will get bigger and continue to spend advertising dollars on Radio.
But what about the abandoned advertisers that Radio so casually blew off? After enjoying years of their repeat business, Radio dropped them to pick up a bright, shiny object that isnít looking so pretty anymore.
I donít have a strategy for "getting back the dot-com dollars." Iím still waiting for someone to explain how to win back the loyal Radio advertisers they casually threw away.
I can hear a group of these abandoned advertisers discussing Radio right now. "Now theyíre going to see what a great deal they had ó serves íem right."



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