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Marketron: Digital Ads For Restricted Categories Help Connect Advertisers To Appropriate Audiences.

While recreational drug, gambling and political advertisers may present challenges to radio, Marketron's recent webinar addresses how the medium can leverage digital platforms to get around regulatory issues when it comes to restricted categories.

“Most demand side platforms have restrictions on these,” Marketron Senior Product Marketing Manager, Digital Jenny Slade says. “By using alternative DSPs, you can connect your advertisers to the appropriate audiences.”

The webinar, titled “Say Yes to Restricted Categories,” suggests ways digital can thread the needle for radio advertising, which otherwise may not be able to mention certain content on-air. Cannabis, for example, which Marketron points out is estimated to hit $39 billion in retail sales this year but is subject to ad regulations varying by state, “is ripe for digital,” Slade says. “[While] advertisers are spending a lot on out-of-home and print because there are fewer restrictions, those mechanisms don't make it easy to determine the return on ad spend or performance. That's where digital comes in. Digital is trackable and targetable.”

Using cannabis as an example, Marketron Director of Media Activation Kyle Nalepa suggests ways to get around limitations on showing consumption, touting health claims, or using imagery or language that could be seen as targeting an audience not of legal age, by using creative focused on promotion messaging. “'Celebrate 4/20 with us [and] get 20% off your purchase' is an acceptable form of creative that taps into that culture vibe,” he says, while noting that this digital display campaign, which utilized geofencing and focused on where users may want to consume, generated 260,000 impressions and more than 1,400 clicks for a .55% click-through rate.

Similar restrictions are in play for CBD or alcoholic beverage advertisers, although there is greater flexibility with the latter as businesses can advertise online sales, brand info and awareness, retail sales, and bars and restaurants serving alcohol. “If you're a bar and you want to drive foot traffic to a happy hour, or you want to show a video with your mixologist, that's great content to show,” Slade says. “Holidays where alcohol advertisers are frequently looking to capitalize on the popularity of alcoholic drinks [such as] Cinco de Mayo or National Rosé Day, are great opportunities to make sure that you're checking in with potential advertisers and helping them capitalize on those revenue opportunities.”

In the $1.8 billion business of online sports betting, also with differing laws from state to state, digital spending increased 10% from 2021 to last year. “Display and video saw a massive increase while social media declined,” says Slade, who suggests campaigns focused on the growing female betting market, on retention with deals for repeat customers, or on the experience of betting on the app. As for other gambling advertisers such as casinos or in-person sportsbooks, Slade notes the power of geofencing and geotargeting to target repeat customers.

As for political advertising, the webinar notes BIA's 2024 projections showing radio accounting for 4.7% of revenue in 2024 with digital at 22%, and Borrell's recent report showing 93% of radio stations selling OTT ads, with one in five managers calling it a top source of revenue. Marketron recommends targeting by zip code, behaviors, interests, and demographics.

The encouraging news for using digital for these advertisers, Nalepa says, is that “most of the tactics for traditional campaigns are also available for those falling into these restricted verticals – display, video and geofencing either with display or video creative.” He also stresses the imporance of keeping campaigns fresh. “The only thing explicitly wrong with digital marketing is building something, launching it, and then never changing it. You have to test to see what's working [and] see what's not baked that into your long term strategy with that campaign. Otherwise, it's just going to get stagnant and fail.”

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