Radio advertising suffers from the so-called tragedy of the commons. This means that given a scarce resource, here being your attention span, advertisers will each have an individual incentive to push more, longer and louder ads to you. Their collective behaviour will lead to saturation so that you will finally turn off your radio in a collective punishment. We invite you to read more about the relationships between the tragedy of the commons and advertising here and there.
Beyond advertising, there are many concerning examples of this phenomenon, such as abusive fishing, leading to halieutic depletion, greenhouse gases emissions, leading to climate change, and all-car transportation, leading to traffic jams and pollution. For each, governments had to take action and regulate.
Back to radio ads: to be fair, we praise the current regulating entities in France that, to a great extent, protect the radio listeners, such as the CSA.
For example, thanks to the rules it enforces, there are no ads for alcohol (at least during evenings) or tobacco, as they could be harmful temptations for addicted people. The amount of ads that can be broadcast on the radio is also strictly limited.
But we believe these rules are not enough. Here are two examples of why there is still room for improvement of the listener experience.
Advertisers exploit auditory artifacts, such as dynamic range compression and equalization (read here about the loudness war) to make their ads stand out of those of others despite not being mathematically louder. Victims of this acoustic war, listeners invented the very first audio adblock: the volume knob!
Advertisers also try to trigger impulse buying by exploiting our emotions and serendipitous discovery, short circuiting our rational thougths. These mind tricks are manipulative and disrespectful.
We believe that writing new laws is not a good way to stop those questionable practises and to raise the overall intellectual standards. The solution should come from a conscious listener reaction against it. Today, many people do not listen to the radio anymore because of the advertisement burden. Some exasperated listeners, thinking about quitting, express their despair on Twitter.
We want them back, with us, by guaranteeing them that advertisements will follow stricter guidelines in the future. This initiative is similar to the acceptable ads initiative by Adblock Plus.
The current business equilibrium of the radios will have to change. Today, on most commercial radios, it is centered on making profit from the listeners that are the most tolerant to advertisements. Speaking in economic terms, we believe this profit maximization will become local and suboptimal as, following the adblockers revolution, unwanted advertisement will become less and less accepted.
There must be another advertising strategy, more focused on the listener experience and more sustainable in the long term. This new model could rely on ads in smaller volume and with more listeners. Ads could be tailored to each listener, so that at least you will not hear the same ad ten times every day. Ad customization is not a new idea, but regarding broadcast media it still faces technical challenges. We are ready to address them in a way that values user privacy at its top, as we care a lot about it ourselves.
Radio could even be paid and ad-free, but some established players believe this is not viable. Why not by the way? A few previous attemps failed but there are interesting counter-examples, such as the well-established SiriusXM and the more recent TuneIn Premium package in the USA. Furthermore, many people pay for Pandora and Spotify every month.
Have no doubt that we, at Adblock Radio, love the radio between the commercial breaks. For the benefit of genuine radio and at the expense of what remains, this project aims at rejuvenating the fossilized European radio business.
At this stage, we are open for a few partnerships with radio companies that would like to join forces with us in this adventure. Mail us at contact [-at-] adblockradio.com. Whether or not there will be candidates, be assured that we have exciting plans for the future of the radio.
Stay tuned on Adblock Radio.