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Heading Into 2023, Here’s How One Agency Views Radio/Audio.

While some marketers have already begun to cut their ad spending due to economic concerns, radio has not yet been affected, according to a national audio buyer at a prominent ad agency. “I’m seeing clients maintaining spend, year-over-year, or increasing spend,” says Diana Anderson, Senior VP, Group Director, National Audio and Local Digital Activation at dentsu Media.

Dentsu, whose clients include Coca Cola, General Motors, and Procter & Gamble, is bullish on audio, radio in particular. Anderson and her team work to educate media planners and clients about the medium, especially those that aren’t using it. “Coming from within the agency it’s seen as more agnostic versus a sales piece,” she told Tammy Greenberg, Senior VP, Business Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau last week during a one-on-one session at NAB New York.

For dentsu, the process starts by using insights and data to define the client’s target audience and to examine their media habits. “If audio pops, it would make the consideration,” Anderson said. From there, the agency relies on its proprietary tools to measure the reach and frequency of various media channels. If, for example, pouring more money into TV isn’t producing additional campaign reach, it will look to add connected television or broadcast radio. “Radio does always bring incremental reach but, unfortunately, budgets aren't unlimited,” Anderson explained. “And some clients really are tied to making sure that they have a digital presence.”

Selling Radio In

As advertisers shift from buying media based on demographics to so-called audience buying, which uses data to target specific life groups like auto intenders or households that use a lot of laundry detergent, they often end up being deficient on audience reach. “You need to reach new people to keep your business growing, for someone to be the future customer,” Anderson noted. “Radio is a really good complement to your digital strategy, because we're getting the mass reach that you need at a very efficient pricing. That’s why I try to sell radio in.”

One reason TV remains a cornerstone of ad buys, despite its declining reach, is many marketers believe they need sight, sound, and motion to effectively market to consumers. To compensate for its lack of visuals, audio needs to lean more heavily on creative, Anderson said. Audio also has an advantage when it comes to engagement, she added. People listening to audio are “paying more attention” compared to TV, where the viewer may be splitting their attention with concurrent social media usage.

‘The Attention Economy’

With more than 4,000 advertising messages hitting consumers daily, dentsu has sought to compare the value of advertising across channels, platforms, and devices to see how they do in terms of engaging audiences. Its June 2019 “The Attention Economy” looked at consumer attention to ads delivered via linear TV, in-feed video on social media and preroll on video platforms. Now it’s audio’s turn. The shop is planning an Attention Economy report on audio, starting with podcasting. “I think the results are really going to be good and will be a point to show clients that audio [delivers] reach, efficiency and attention,” Anderson said.

She is also a fan of the shift from buying and selling media based on gross rating points to cost per thousand impressions or CPMs, which is occurring across the ad ecosystem. “It gives radio/audio the opportunity to be evaluated with other media” that trade on CPMs, Anderson said. One of her pet peeves is that she doesn’t have the same amount of data for radio that she does for digital media.

Asked by Greenberg about where the money is coming from for growing digital audio ad budgets, Anderson said it’s typically from one of two places. If the client has an audio budget, they’re shifting dollars into streaming. If they don’t, they’re moving digital dollars into digital audio.

“A client should have an audio approach,” Anderson said, one that includes streaming, podcasting and broadcast radio.“They all are complementary,” she said. “And they work together.”

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