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To Maximize Revenue, Compliance Process Needs Greater Speed, Efficiency And Transparency.

RAB's first webinar of 2022, featuring four executives on the radio advertising compliance frontlines, including moderator and president/founder of spot delivery system Mr. Master Stu Jacobs, covered not just what exactly compliance is or should be, but also the correlation between the practice and revenue, its importance to clients, and how the process can be improved and become more efficient.

For Carat USA Senior VP, Group Director, National Audio and Local Digital Activation Diana Anderson, “it's about getting the audience we promised the client, for [spots] to run during the times we wanted them to run in the dayparts we ordered, in programming that's approved by us, and traffic [that's] running correctly.” Premiere Networks President Julie Talbott takes a wider view: “Whatever we say we're going to give to a client, we want to ensure that they get it.”

Several panelists addressed compliance issues encountered on the local or network side. “We have a lot of moving parts,” Alpha Media Corporate Director of Traffic Operations Paul Blanding says, referring to ensuring copy is compliant with what the agency, direct advertiser or network wants, making sure spots are produced, entered into automation systems and aired correctly and reported correctly to the advertiser or network. “[These days] there are more and better systems in place for us to be compliant because there's a fairly standardized way that networks schedule spots. However, there are still plenty of manual touches in the workflow that can lead to errors. I wish I could tell you that we were 100% compliant with every client that we have right now today, but that wouldn't be true.”

For some network programs, compliance issues with content have been a sticky wicket. “When Rush [Limbaugh] was on the air, we had situations where clients were receiving complaints because people were writing in and didn't want to be associated with the program,” Anderson says. “So it was then [about] having to find out how we ended up airing in the show – was it a traffic error, was it a bonus spot, things like that. How it can affect revenue is that for a while we weren't buying new stations because we were trying to safeguard as best we could.”

Another key issue brought up by panelists was radio's lack of immediacy compared to digital when it comes to compliance. “The immediate reporting that you get with digital is a challenge for radio,” Blanding says. “We've been using some attribution software that [provides] some fairly quick feedback to a client, but it's definitely a challenge.” Adds Anderson, “Clients are asking for more because they're used to being able to see where their impressions ran in digital and get real-time information. So it’s hard when the only thing I can give clients [is] how [their] schedule delivered against what we bought, 120 days [later]. It leaves the perception that radio is old school media versus digital, when we know that radio works, so I would love to be able find a way to highlight radio more.”

The presenters agree that the compliance process needs to be more transparent and with more useful data, especially in an environment with less staffers working on these issues. “This is all about technology for us and to find how we can get that information back as quickly as possible and be as transparent as possible, so that people really want to come into the full audio space,” Talbott says. Anderson adds, “What I'm hearing all the time now is, what proof of performance can you give me on this schedule? That really is an area where we need more accountability and more transparencyfor audio.” While strides have been made, Blanding says, “We're trying to do more with fewer people. And that's a real challenge.”

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