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'Disconnect In The Media Plan': Audio Is Highly Underutilized By Summer Movie Advertisers.

With COVID a memory for most, and people returning to theaters, the summer movie season should look more like 2019. But for media buyers still leaning heavily on TV when it comes to the ad campaigns for this summer's crop, you'd think it was still the days of “Jaws” and “Star Wars.”

“There's a disconnect in the media plan,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “The vast majority of the theatrical movie budgets look like they're from 1975: a huge allocation for linear TV, modest allocation for digital, and then very little else.”

In Westwood One's blog, Bouvard reviews how the results of a recent Maru study, along with data from Nielsen and Edison Research, point to audio as “the missing movie marketing ingredient” in ad budgets. An analysis of Maru's survey of more than 1,000 respondents in April, tracking awareness of upcoming summer releases, shows heavy audio listeners have the greatest familiarity with ten major titles compared to heavy TV viewers. While the average film tested scored a 39% familiarity among the sample, heavy AM/FM radio and podcast listeners, and heavy streamers of ad-supported audio, all indexed significantly higher, with heavy AM/FM listeners showing 49% familiarity, compared to 33% for heavy TV watchers. Maru also found that heavy audio listeners were more likely to see these movies, with 44% of heavy AM/FM listeners intending to watch, vs. 37% of heavy TV viewers.

Additionally, according to Maru's November 2022 data, heavy audio listeners are more likely to see theatrical movies once a week or more, and several times a week, with 23% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners in that camp, vs. 12% of heavy TV watchers and 15% of the total sample. A closer look at that 15% showed that ad-supported audio (AM/FM radio, podcasts, and streaming) has the largest weekly reach (93%) among heavy moviegoers.

“Maru finds that heavy audio listeners are just more into movies, [and] ad-supported audio reaches heavy moviegoers not reached on other media platforms,” Bouvard says. “When you're spending money on TV, you're having a very hard time finding these heavy category users, [yet] the vast majority of movie marketing budgets are spent on linear TV.”

Indeed, Vivvix/Kantar's analysis of spend in 2022 shows that 58% of motion picture ad budgets went to TV, 39% to digital, and just 2% to radio. Based on Maru's research, an optimized media allocation for movie advertising would push TV down to 18%, keep digital at 39% and move 44% of the chips to ad-supported audio. Using Edison Research's most recent “Share of Ear” data, the audio slice of the pie should break down in AM/FM's favor, with 64% of the ad-supported audio spend.

The Maru study also shows that heavy moviegoers listen to a wide variety of AM/FM radio programming formats and podcast genres. News/talk, oldies/classic hits, top 40 and rock lead the way on the radio side, while podcasts listened to also run the gamut from news/current events to entertainment/culture to health/fitness/lifestyle. “The smart audio buy is not just a targeted buy of a couple of genres,” Bouvard says, “it's a mass reach buy.”

The blog cites data from Nielsen Media Impact showing how, when analyzing five major TV campaigns for theatrical movies, 60% of Americans 18-49 were missed, whereby reallocating 20% of the linear TV budget to AM/FM radio doubles the reach.

“Sixty percent of American 18-49-year-olds never saw one linear TV ad for these films,” Bouvard says. “AM/FM radio’s audience advantage means shifting 20% of the TV investment to AM/FM radio generates a massive increase in reach.”

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