OPINION: Early adopters may love digital radio; the rest of us should wait

Who’d be an early adopter? Don’t these people ever learn from their premature enthusiasms? Their attics must be fascinating, stuffed to the rafters with Sinclair C5s, laser disc players, Philips 2000 video recorders, squarials and boxes full of remote controls that have long since lost the tool they were assigned to.

Who’d be an early adopter? Don’t these people ever learn from their

premature enthusiasms? Their attics must be fascinating, stuffed to the

rafters with Sinclair C5s, laser disc players, Philips 2000 video

recorders, squarials and boxes full of remote controls that have long

since lost the tool they were assigned to.



But, of course, they are already off in pursuit of the latest novelty,

never questioning the astonishing expense of being a pioneer. Successful

new technologies have a habit of getting cheaper quite quickly if you

have the patience (which the early adopter doesn’t). I understand, for

example, that the cost of computer power has come down by a factor of

8000 in the past 30 years. If the equivalent were true in the car

market, by the way, a Jaguar would cost pounds 2 and go 1000 miles on a

thimble of petrol, but that’s another story.



The early adopters of digital television may be wondering why the more

circumspect, ’late’ adopters are being given their set-top boxes for

nothing, but on second thoughts, they are almost certainly out there

scouring the high streets for a digital radio. Never mind that there is

nothing to listen to, or that a digital radio will set them back pounds

500, it is the early adopter’s buzz to get in there at the head of the

queue.



These tunnel-visioned nutters must, however, give the consortia now

bidding for the digital radio franchises a faint glimmer of hope.

Goodness knows, there is little else to get excited about in digital

radio at the moment.



But radio has come a long way in the past few years. The number of

stations has grown rapidly to more than 270, and the medium, astutely

marketed, now accounts for pounds 5 out of every pounds 100 spent on

advertising in the UK.



Isn’t it ready for the digital revolution just like its colourful big

brother, telly?



I wonder. The great strength of radio is its simplicity: no pictures, or

- as Radio Luxembourg used to sell it - ’pictures in the mind’.

Astonishingly, one-third of all listening is to AM and long wave

stations, so superior quality reception doesn’t seem to be a

prerequisite for listeners.



Then there is radio’s other great defining quality: it’s happiness to

take second place to driving, eating, ironing, cooking, chatting,

reading, gardening - whatever. The average household has five radio sets

already, instant accompaniment to life. One of the greatest benefits of

digital is interactivity: but will listeners really want to interact

with their radio sets?



The other great difference between radio and television in the digital

stakes is that while digital television really will extend choice for

many, the radio listener is already well-served. What role for digital

then?



Of course the truth is that the bidders for digital radio aren’t

expecting an instant explosion of consumer interest. They are putting

down seed corn for the future - probably the ten-year horizon rather

than the five-year one. When the opportunity eventually comes, and

digital radio sets are a fiver a piece, they will be best-placed to reap

the harvest.



This is the sort of early adoption I can relate to, but for radio

advertisers in the next few years, the best advice is probably not to

hold your breath.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer