How Hubbard Radio Built A Thriving Digital Agency That Pulls In 15-20% Of Revenue.
Revenues at Hubbard Radio were estimated to be $300 million last year with about 15-20% of the total derived from 2060 Digital, the company’s digital services agency. The unit has become its own thriving business with separate management and P&L and revenue that grows year after year. The whole operation started organically, in Cincinnati, by picking what Senior VP of Digital Sales Strategy Steven Goldstein calls the low hanging digital fruit that was starting to sprout in the early 2010s.
Under Jim Bryant’s leadership, Hubbard launched 2060 Digital in 2012 as a local digital services agency within the company’s Cincinnati radio group where Bryant had been serving as VP/Market Manager for the past 27 years. Named after its Cincy address, 2060 Digital initially focused on building websites, launching mobile campaigns and helping clients figure out search engine marketing and social media management.
Meanwhile at its DC cluster, home to all-news giant WTOP-FM, Goldstein and his digital sales manager counterparts in other Hubbard markets started selling similar digital services and display advertising that went beyond just Hubbard’s O&O sites. By 2014 each of the clusters had formally launched its own 2060 agency, although each was doing it differently. “We tried to apply some formal organizational structure, with a formal digital sales manager and a digital strategist, and started to install a sales team and training a sales staff,” Goldstein told Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell on the latest episode of Borrell’s Local Marketing Trends podcast. “Our clients were receptive, sales teams stated jumping on, we started seeing success and renewals.”
Some sellers waited until another member of the sales team had a big client success to embrace selling digital but eventually more sellers jumped on board. “The next thing we know we have a thriving digital business,” Goldstein added. The group has since grown into a national digital company that works with clients in 25 states. “Our goal is that our audio divisions are maintaining and that and digital continues to grow,” Goldstein says. “I think digital will grow as a percentage of our total revenue.”
There were a few stumbles along the way. An one-size-fits-all attempt failed. Management adjusted and “our revenue and profit has grown consistently every year,” said Goldstein.
The business is structured such that every market manager is responsible for both their 2060 business and their radio business in their market. That rolls down to the sales department so that every director of sales is responsible for both radio and digital sales in their market.
“Our philosophy is not to go into our clients just selling one or the other. We really take an integrated approach to it. We try to talk to our clients’ about marketing, what’s best for our client,” Goldstein explains. “Sometimes it’s just radio, sometimes its digital and sometimes it’s the perfect storm. We have these amazing megaphones in our radio products and we've got amazing products on the digital side and we blend them together and the client uses us because they trust us and it works out great.”
Hubbard’s 2060 Digital started out just selling digital products to Hubbard’s existing radio clients. Eventually it successfully lured new clients who only bought digital. Today it has what Goldstein calls “a healthy blend of clients who buy just radio, or who buy just digital from us or buy some blend.” In addition, 2060 Digital has branched out beyond Hubbard’s radio footprint to four markets where it just sells digital services.