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Growing Disillusionment With Social Media Puts Brand Safety In The Spotlight.

The ongoing scrutiny of Facebook, which faces growing, widespread pressure over its policies about hate speech and its related enforcement efforts, has led a growing number of brands to put their advertising dollars elsewhere.

The social network’s unwanted attention has also put a renewed focus on the issue of brand safety at a time when the advertising industry reconsiders its relationships with social media — a development that could represent an opportunity for radio.

“Radio always has and will continue to fulfill the responsibility of the trust we have earned with our listening audiences and advertising partners,” Erica Farber, the President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, tells Inside Radio. “We’ve earned this trust and believe that reminding our advertising partners that radio always provides a reliable and safe environment, which is especially critical during these challenging times. Equally as important is the continued integrity of radio’s programming and dissemination of news and information to our listeners.”

Farber says there’s a growing amount of anxiety and concern — among consumers and advertisers alike — about the many drawbacks of social media, from issues of privacy and hate speech to concerns over child safety, corporate and national security issues.

“[W]ith radio, advertisers can be assured that radio remains a trusted partner,” Farber says, “and that our airwaves and digital platforms provide them a safe environment for their advertising campaigns and most importantly, they’ll reach their consumers where they feel safe and trust the information they’re receiving is reliable.

Christine Travaglini, President of rep firm Katz Radio Group, says the unfettered nature of the digital ecosystem poses an array of risks to brands, particularly their immediate proximity to “fake news,” hate speech, extreme political discourse and more.

“The greatest challenge is that social media remains unregulated and void of the strong standards and regulations that applies to traditional media,” she says. “Radio operates within industry-wide government enforced standards that help maintain transparency and integrity for brands. Radio also has all the flexibility of social media — advertisers can tap into our on-air influencers without any potential pitfalls.”

Travaglini, noting radio’s vast reach (92% of Americans 18+ tuning in weekly) and ability to quickly pivot its creative capabilities in response to rapidly changing circumstances, says the current state of affairs offers radio a chance to leverage its chief attributes, including the ability to customize by market, format, daypart, target and content to uphold brands’ objectives and values.

“Radio is accountable,” she says, “and gives brands access to premium content that aligns to a brand’s specific comfort level with conflict-free placement that can separate a brands ad from mandated competitors and content.”

Lauren Russo, Executive VP & Managing Partner, Audio Investment at Horizon Media, says social media’s ongoing woes will likely bring about more investment across the audio ecosystem, inclusive of broadcast, streaming and podcasting.

She says listening across the audio landscape is still evolving and growing, with platforms within the space offering “unique but complimentary benefits.”

“Within broadcast, we have the ability to leverage 90%+ reach at a fraction of the price of other media channels while also having the ability to leverage the relationships that DJ influencers have with the local community,” she explains. “Streaming offers music discovery and an escape for consumers and has reached significant scale with 1-to-1 targeting capabilities.

“We are seeing equally exciting trends in podcasting,” she continues. “With 1.3 million and growing podcast titles in the marketplace, 104 million monthly listeners hear exactly what they want to hear — when they want to hear it — and marketing possibilities are limitless. With on-demand control over an expansive list of topics and genres, there’s spoken-word content for every listener.”

Earlier this month, as the Facebook advertiser boycott began, the RAB launched its “Trust and Truth” campaign, complete with a series of customizable audio spots created by Yamanair Creative in partnership with the RAB. The message: Broadcast radio is not only a safe place for brand messages, but it is trusted by consumers and is influential when it comes to their decision-making.

“Radio is a proven and trusted advertising partner that delivers for its advertisers with measurable results,” Farber says. “The medium takes its responsibility to be a beacon of truth, companionship, and to do good in the local communities where we do business. From that perspective, advertisers know what they’re getting from radio — a committed partner to help them achieve their advertising goals and a community leader that values the responsibility of news and information sharing at the highest level.”

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