How Radio/Audio Can Succeed in Tough Ad Market

Contributor: Alli Romano, Columnist, Alli on Audio Podcaster- MediaVillage

As brands navigate today’s uncertain advertising market, audio can offer them a brand-safe haven. According to exclusive research from The Myers Report, audio outperforms many other media in important sales categories, including trust, client support, and communicating value. Now, it’s up to the audio industry, including broadcast radio and digital audio, to deliver that message to brands, agencies, and ad executives.

In these difficult times, the audio industry has a unique opportunity, according to MediaVillage founder and media ecologist Jack Myers. In a presentation to Radio Advertising Bureau members, “How to Grow Radio Revenues – Cultural, Economic and Marketing Solutions“, Myers said radio broadcasters need to play up their local ties, including popular DJs and hosts, community involvement, and value. Download the presentation below.

“Radio has an opportunity to recreate unique marketing opportunities on localism and content, and to rebuild its competitive position,” Myers said.

Audio companies are well-positioned to deliver for their clients, Myers noted. A recent Myers Report survey of 700 advertising and agency executives on perceptions of 72 media sales organization across nine categories, including trust and reliability; innovation; client satisfaction; and communication. Respondents gave high marks to several radio and audio companies, including NPR/NPM, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartMedia and Entercom.

But audio needs to do a better job communicating that value. Sellers need to get into the marketplace and communicate their opportunities, Myers said. There’s an uphill climb, as many brand managers and agency execs may not fully appreciate the possibilities with audio, which range from working with local radio stations and personalities, to digital options, including digital streaming and podcasting. In fact, radio’s digital offerings are a driving force for the industry, attracting new ad dollars and creating growth opportunities, a rarity for legacy media.

Yet, many in the ad community may not be familiar with audio’s evolving story. For many media managers and executives, the industry is a relatively new space. Sixty-two percent of media professionals have less than eight years’ industry experience, and only one-third of chief marketing officers have marketing experience or education, according to The Myers Report data. And brand managers spend just 2 percent of their time on media.

“As an industry, we have to take a stand for increasing the importance of media decisions and the medium is the message,” Myers said.

To advance their case, audio sellers should communicate those positive attributes, Myers suggested. At the top of the list is radio and digital audio’s trust and reliability. Audio is a brand-safe environment where companies know exactly where their ads will run and select the content or personalities they’ll be associated with.

Radio and audio also need to stump for a larger slice of ad budgets and creative spending, Myers said. To do that, play up all the opportunities that radio can deliver, including both local over-the-air and digital audio, and to reach diverse audiences, including minorities and older consumers 55-plus. It is critical for brands and agencies, Myers said, “to recognize the value of brand equity of content that advertising is associated with; not just the impressions being delivered, but where they’re being delivered.”

Of course, everyone is operating in a very challenging advertising market. According to The Myers Report’s latest forecasts, total 2020 ad spending will fall between 14 percent and 20 percent, compared to 2019 levels. Myers projects the ad market will not begin a meaningful recovery until 2022.

Among categories, audio is suffering major revenue losses, with spending down about 20 percent to 25 percent year-over-year. However, these declines are in line with other media, including local TV, cable, and broadcast networks.

As the ad markets slowly recover, Myers urged radio and audio companies to invest in education, both within their organizations and externally. As an industry, Myers said that advertising and marketing lag behind other sectors in these areas. “Companies that invest significantly in education and rethink their PR and promotional output in an educational context will be the next generation of leaders,” he added.

Download Jack’s presentation, “How to Grow Radio Revenues – Cultural, Economic and Marketing Solutions” here. Contact if you have trouble with the free download.

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