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Here’s How One Radio Company Is Cashing In During A Breakout Year For OTT.


Given advertisers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for OTT video advertising – and radio’s desire to be one-stop media shopping for local businesses – radio may someday sell more streaming video advertising than streaming audio. “This is a big opportunity on the local level for a local seller,” says Erica Dreyer, Director of Integrated Media, NRG Media. “We really have the ability to leverage this with our local sales team for a huge impact.”


The industry is nearly three months into a breakout year for OTT, which is growing faster mostly because of political advertising hogging broadcast TV ad avails. According to Borrell Associates President Jim Brown, 68% of OTT buyers also buy radio. “It’s radio advertisers who can’t afford broadcast TV but want video advertising,” Brown said this week at Borrell Miami. “And most of them are shooting their own videos.”


NRG Media, which owns about 35 stations in small and medium size Midwest markets, is among the radio groups pouncing on this growing trend. “We are no longer just a broadcast company that sells spots and remotes,” Dreyer said. “We're able to deliver content across multiple distribution channels; we connect with audiences beyond our own signals.”


Working in radio, Dreyer said she couldn’t have imagined selling TV spots. “But here we are, we're selling TV, and we're doing a really good job at it,” she told the Borrell crowd during a track of sessions devoted to the OTT opportunity. That began in fourth quarter 2021 with the introduction of sales training and support and a video compensation plan for sellers. By 2022, with video accounting for 13% of NRG’s digital sales, the company invested in both staff and video technology. Last year video became a top 3 digital product for NRG, only surpassed by streaming audio and targeted display ads.


“And we owe a lot of this to the investments we made in creative and video capabilities,” Dreyer explained.


Building Video Ads For Clients


When NRG began staffing for video, it launched in five markets, but only one of them had the ability to create in-house videos. “Not only did that limit our revenue opportunity, but it also limited our account executives’ willingness to go out and talk to clients about it [because] we were dependent on the client already having a TV spot,” she said. To solve the problem, NRG partnered with Waymark, an AI-powered video ad generator. “We're able to essentially create a brand for our clients within the platform, and then scrape the client’s website, where we can find images, video, and text. From there, we prompt some basic information, like what do we want the ad to say? What's the call to action? What's the special they want to promote?” NRG can then edit the video, change the copy, the voice, colors, or pictures.


Finding a way for account executives to create video spots had a measurable impact on NRG’s ability to sell OTT advertising. “In the second half of 2022, we sold twice as much as we did in the first half, because we had the ability to create ads and apps,” Dreyer says.


The company then paired its newfound ability to develop video spot creative with sales training. While it wasn’t expecting AEs to make the creative, it did want to educate them on its capabilities when pitching clients so it trained sellers on Waymark.


“Now that we can build our own ads in every market where we are selling streaming TV, we are able to serve those [clients] that are new to TV, as well as the legacy TV advertisers,” Dreyer elaborated. “ And our new TV clients outnumber legacy advertisers two-to-one. If you have customers that are not buying TV right now, there's an opportunity to get them on streaming TV.”

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