The days of the simple 30-second radio spot are over. Now radio sales houses have to deal with a multi-channel environment encompassing digital, online, mobile, social media, gamification and even events.
Radio sales houses have spent years building online, and offline, digital audiences; investing in infrastructure and skills development to support fully integrated and multi-channel offerings to brands and clients.
As group sales director for Mediamark, Cindy Diamond says, radio brands communicate via an FM signal but also use mobile, online, gamification, digital, social media and on the ground channels.
“As a result, it was important to evolve with them in terms of skills and offerings in order to allow brands to leverage these touchpoints. From a Mediamark perspective, growing an events division, digital and TV division led to a very natural progression into the multi-platform space,” she explains.
“Where we don’t have the skills in-house we have brought them in – for example, employing a creative strategist with through the line experience to bolster solutions in market.”
Media strategy manager for Primedia Broadcasting, Taryn Hood, agrees that skill sets and the approach within the business have changed. “Not only are we creating multiplatform content, but we also need to understand the proliferation of options for clients to leverage their brand messages through growing numbers of channels. From tailor-made integrated client campaigns, created from scratch in-house, to programmatic ad-inserted audio – the scope of sales opportunities is enormous,” she says.
To take advantage of these opportunities, Primedia has boosted its key teams in the space. “Our Research and Insights team are at full capacity, turning data into meaningful insights for our teams and their clients. And our Creative Solutions team has been heavily invested in, to create bespoke solutions that advertisers are now looking for, to cut through the clutter.”
As Diamond says, radio is still one medium that “plays nice with all other mediums in the sandpit”.
Which means that bundling is something radio sales houses can do effectively – depending on the client. “ Uptake of bundled products is still very much dependent on client’s objectives, overall direction of the campaign (especially for global brands) and client’s appetite to try an alternative approach to traditional media buying,” she says.
It certainly provides radio clients a solution that leverages the “best of digital and gamification”.
It allows for greater engagement, greater measurability, and social sharing to amplify the campaign, Diamond adds. “In this regard, it is not an upsell but part of multi-channel campaign that we believe is providing stronger, more measurable solutions that are bringing clients back to the table.”
Diamond says while the majority of Mediamark’s radio station revenue is still based on generic campaigns, “the demand for a non-traditional multi-channel approach is growing fast. Given the conversations we are having in the market place – we believe the demand for multi-channel will continue to grow and become the new norm – hence our gearing in the past few years”.
This gives radio sales houses the opportunity to be “brought into the marketing plan upfront and not just with the media or radio plan where an integrated multi-channel solution becomes difficult”.
Hood says Primedia is cognisant of research done by NAD in the UK that proved radio is “four times more effective than any other form of advertising at driving internet browsing. Listeners exposed to radio adverts were 52% more likely to browse for that brand online”. Like Diamond, Hood says Primedia would like to see increased demand for bundling. She says digital and traditional planners are not yet working in synergy in the audio and radio space.
“Based on conversations with our advertising partners in the industry, we believe this will start shifting and give radio players a new opportunity for platform cross-sell and give advertisers a strong, seamless and in some cases a visual support channel for call-to-action,” she says.
Data is playing an increasingly important role in decision making, especially as the pressure mounts to deliver increased return on investment on decreasing budgets.
“At Mediamark we strongly believe in being data-driven and work hard to find ways to show ROI,” says Diamond. “We are also finding that using data from post campaigns, including the digital components, has helped us a) win repeat business and b) tweak campaigns, which is exactly what data needs to be used for. This provides clients with an even more engaging solution second time around.”
Audience data is key
Hood says data is key to all Primedia sales decision making and that “digitally originated first, second and third party audience data is key to the future of integrated audience measurement. At this stage, there is huge untapped potential in this space locally”.
The Broadcast Research Council’s data therefore plays a vital role. “We are in full support of the BRC RAM data. We see stability and market traction for the new numbers. However, we are very vocal about encouraging the BRC to push for a digital collection method that will give better access to the top-end of the market and overcome limited access to gated-communities,” Hood says.
Other opportunities lie in sponsorships and branded content, but again, seamless brand integration presents challenges to planners. Diamond says while sponsorships remain a sought-after property for clients, effective integration is time-consuming, and planners are often given briefs to implement in just a few days.
“Therefore short-term tactical sponsorships have become more popular than the long term sponsorships of the past,” she says. “Clients want out of the box debut ideas on a shoestring budget, which aren’t always feasible.”
Branded content is popular and “even standard ideas such as major competitions weave the brand into the programming time and speak seamlessly,” says Diamond. “Radio stations are powerful in the audio space, but likewise in the online space where video and podcasting offer a robust branded content opportunity. We urge clients to engage and build solutions in partnership with the media owner as the effect can be powerful.”
Primedia is experiencing increased interest in experiential campaigns, podcasts, endorsements, branded content and other campaigns that speak to audiences in authentic ways, and cut through the clutter, says Hood. “We are seeing such demand for this, that in the past year we have put significant investment into our Creative Solutions team, to both respond to client briefs and identify opportunities for our advertising partners,” she says.
Audio brand strategies
Radio sales houses are becoming increasingly innovative when it comes to audio brand strategies. She highlights Primedia Broadcasting’s ‘Radio to Road’ collaboration with Primedia Outdoor as a case in point. “In 2017 we launched a South African first: a cross-platform collaboration between Primedia Broadcasting stations and Primedia Outdoor’s digital billboard network in Gauteng and the Western Cape. When an advertiser’s spot starts playing on one of our stations, it automatically triggers the creative to appear on the digital billboards in the region, offering simultaneous audio and visual impact for our commuter audiences,” she explains.
Hood says advertisers are amazed by the audience size and traction on streaming and podcast platforms. Over 500 000 monthly streamers and over 250 000 unique podcast listeners, generating over 700 000 downloads per month and growing. “Uptake on ad-insert digital audio has been slow, but the more sophisticated digital advertisers are leading the space. There is still a lot of experimentation and testing,” she says.
Streaming is a winner for the group, she says, listing international bookings from BMW, Nedbank, Distel, Famous Brands, and FNB as brands that are pioneering locally. “The Dentsu Aegis Group, Cadreon, and Sprout have been the most active of the agencies – indicative of their teams’ willingness to venture into and pioneer new spaces,” she says.
In terms of programmatic buying, Diamond reckons while it is still in the planning stages, it represents a considerable shift from traditional buying. “We need to learn from digital (both the good and the bad) and bring in its efficiencies, increased measurability as well as additional analytics,” she says.
“This brings with it faster time to market so being able to customise broadcast for data such as real time weather or sports events will be a reality. Agency trading desks are not necessarily geared up for linear programmatic broadcast (both TV and radio) and we expect DSPs to be launched that will fill the void, making it easier to book individual spots. Expect some noise in the next 12 months,” she says.
It’s certain an ever-evolving industry, one that demands sales houses stay ahead of the curve, while demonstrating the power and return on investment across all channels.