Monthly Archives: August 2014

The positioning of promos…

I can go on about stuff like this for hours. But I’ll try not to…

Last week, while driving round the M25, I was surprised to hear a major London station play three promos, back to back, all containing the same station voices, and all for different clients.

It goes without saying that this is a bad idea. Each merges into the next and the effectiveness is lost, which is why traffic teams work carefully to avoid this kind of situation. Most stations will have up to four breaks per hour, with a maximum of one promo per break. It’d seem that the station I heard probably just made a mistake – possibly one was in the system as a commercial or the ad break lengths weren’t balancing. That said, I heard two promos back-to-back on the same station the night after, which is a lack of attention to detail.

Where should promos go?

Scheduling one promo per break is simple, and just leaves the decision of where to put it in the break. But things are complicated further when you add other S&P content to the breaks. By the end of Real Radio, we had a promo, a sponsor tag and a “partnership tag” (basically an unbranded sponsor tag) in most breaks. Add to that the station imaging, and the danger of fillers if the ad breaks aren’t of equal length, and the potential for bad sequences grows quickly.

Imaging producers and programmers spend many hours – often in pubs – discussing the best sequences. Should the promo go first, ensuring that the client’s message is heard off the back of the presenter? If so, where does the sponsor tag go? The end of the break? If so, is there a danger of it merging in with the station imaging? Especially if the imaging also uses station voices. And if you throw a partnership tag into the mix, where should that go?

Oh – and the other conundrum – if some promos are sponsored and thus scheduled by traffic, and others are programming promos and are scheduled by the programmer through Linker (or equivalent), it can be hard to keep all elements consistent.

At Real Radio, the general sequence was this…

Ramp into break ending in sung ID
Sponsor Tag (scheduled by traffic)
S&P Promo (scheduled by traffic)
Ad break
Partnership tag (scheduled by traffic(
Jingle
Music

This was all well and good, except when the promo was scheduled by programming, your Sponsor Tag and Promo would swap positions, causing an inconsistency and possible voice clashes…

Ramp into break ending in sung ID
Station Promo (scheduled by programming)
Sponsor Tag (scheduled by traffic)
Ad break
Partnership tag (scheduled by traffic)
Jingle
Music

Of course, you could just insist that all promos are scheduled by traffic, which cuts down on programming flexibility, or you can insist that all promos are scheduled by programming, which excludes the ability for the sales team to run the reports that they like to be able to supply to clients, and work out broadcast values etc.

Different groups approach it in different ways, and reality is that not many have partnership tags, and not many have the high S&P load that requires such strict rules. Plus, some have separate S&P voices for promos than they use for sponsor tags or station imaging (Global are particularly good at this, which benefits the flow of their breaks), and let’s not even get into the world of bingo promos, dating promos, local deals donuts or promos made by the sales team to encourage businesses to advertise on the station, often scheduled as commercials even though they use the station voices.

Anyway… back to the point… what goes where?

That’s up to you, and what’s right for the station. Decide your rules, and stick to them. Oh, and make sure that everyone involved is aware of them. One of the most important pieces of information when creating any audio is the context of how it’ll be used, including what’s before or after it.

Let’s discuss this more in the pub!