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Pharma, Entertainment Are Hot And Auto Is Coming Back.

One reason why some radio companies have not returned to pre-pandemic 2019 revenue levels is the loss of massive ad dollars from the struggling automotive business. Historically one of radio’s largest categories, auto has faced protracted supply chain issues. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, according to one of radio’s largest groups. Audacy, which has been particularly hard hit, sees the category bouncing back – but not until 2023.

“In audio, we expect them to come back next year,” Audacy Chief Revenue Officer Brian Benedik told Ad Age Studio 30 Editor John Dioso during a video Q&A from the venerable advertising industry publication.

“As we talked to our auto partners, they've said to us, ‘Listen, let us get cars on lots and we'll be back,’” Benedick continued. “We're excited about that.”

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical category has come around to radio and the larger audio space now that the industry is able to provide analytics and attribution data that it couldn’t offer a few years ago.

“The pharmaceutical industry has exploded this year for us,” Benedik said. “Part of the challenge we had not too long ago with pharma is [they were] saying, ‘Listen, who are these people? And how can I message them?’ We didn't have an answer for them not too long ago. Now we do so that's opened up a whole new level of discussion,” Benedik added.

One needs to look no further than the top 100 radio advertisers of the first six months of 2022 to see how the pharma category has grown at radio this year. BioNTech-Pfizer, IBrance, ZzzQuil, Vicks, and Bristol Myers Squib-Pfizer are among the prescription and over-the counter medications and pharma companies that made radio a significant part of their media mix this year.

As America roared back to life in 2022, the dormant entertainment category surged and Benedik says Audacy has been a big beneficiary of that. “We're working with all the big TV companies, all the big streaming companies and all the big film companies,” Benedik said. “Not just having them invest in audio, but how can we have a two-way relationship?” For example, a creator at Hulu could introduce a performer at one of Audacy’s major concert events, such as We Can Survive at the Hollywood Bowl or the Audacy Beach Festival in Fort Lauderdale. “That helps us both ways, right? We get that brand glow from Hulu and Hulu gets that exposure in front of 25,000 people. So, the entertainment vertical, we're finding a lot of momentum which is exciting to us, too.”

Speaking to an audience of marketers and agency people via the Ad Age platform, Benedik conveyed a sense of excitement about the audio space right now – from both a consumer and advertiser perspective. For consumers, audio is “so much more discoverable than it used to be, it's so much more interactive than it used to be so now you can really have some fun with the audio channel,” Benedik offered. And audio is easier for marketers to invest in nowadays. In addition to working directly with an audio salesperson, audio can be bought programmatically with buys informed by audience data – the same way other media are bought and sold.

“Audio never could play in those circles, up until fairly recently,” Benedik explained. “A marketer has an opportunity to reach an audio consumer, through all these platforms – linear, streaming, podcast, audiobooks. The targeting, the attribution, and the creative is so much easier to do now… It's an exciting time for a marketer and a consumer.”

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