3 Big Takeaways from the 2019 Radio Show
The 2019 Radio Show in Dallas was a cheering session for radio, and rightfully so, as radio has undergone a metamorphosis from a traditional medium that was rapidly losing share to an audio powerhouse.
What was everyone saying about radio’s renaissance?
Here are my three big takeaways from this exciting three-day conference hosted by the RAB/NAB.
1. Digital Audio is Exploding
From the largest companies down to the regional players, every radio organization was talking about double-digit digital growth.
What’s behind the growth? Everyone agrees it’s smart speakers, podcasts, and the digital consumption of audio via streaming apps and websites.
Take smart speakers, for instance. While radio has always maintained a stronghold in in-car listening, devices like Alexa are bringing radio listening back to the home. David Field, CEO of Entercom, pointed out that listening to broadcast radio is the number-one use case of smart speakers.
“Radio has embraced digital, and as a result has seen double-digit growth in this revenue stream virtually overnight. But there’s still work to be done in monetizing both traditional broadcast and digital audio to the level it deserves.”
And, podcasts—born out of radio’s history of dialogue and content creation—are perhaps the hottest topic in audio today. As the audio entertainment landscape expands, everyone expects to see additional experimentation on the podcasting front in the form of short-form podcasts, podcasts on broadcast radio, and more.
2. Audience Data Proves ROI, Boosts Revenue
As radio listening expands to digital platforms, a wealth of data follows in its wake.
When consumers hit websites and apps, broadcasters can scoop up that first-party audience data using data management platforms and other tools.
Stations can tap into this rich consumer data to create content that speaks to their audience. And by making this audience data available to advertisers, early adopters of attribution metrics have been able to prove the high ROI of radio and are rewarded with higher revenues.
For example, Bill Wilson, CEO of local media and digital solutions provider Townsquare, has seen a big jump in both customer retention and ad spend from audience data.
3. Radio is Undervalued and Underpriced…for Now
Radio’s reach remains massive at 270 million American listeners, or roughly 93% of U.S. households. For context, Mary Berner, CEO of Cumulus, pointed out that radio’s reach is greater than Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
And she noted that radio’s ROI is 10:1, in large part because of the companionship experience that consumers gain from radio’s unique personality-driven content.
But that doesn’t mean radio is reaping all the rewards. In fact, most radio companies feel their inventory is being undervalued in a big way.
According to Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia’s CEO, radio is underpriced—a sentiment echoed by radio companies of all stripes in attendance at the event.
At the same time, the overwhelming consensus was that now is the most exciting time to be in the radio industry because of the huge potential to improve pricing, valuation, and ultimately revenue.
To Sum It Up…
Radio has embraced digital, and as a result has seen double-digit growth in this revenue stream virtually overnight. But there’s still work to be done in monetizing both traditional broadcast and digital audio to the level it deserves.
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