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There’s Good Reason To Be Bullish About 2022, Say iHeart Executives.

Four of iHeartMedia’s top executives are out with their predictions for 2022. CEO Bob Pittman sees “exponential growth” ahead in the podcasting sector, CMO Gayle Troberman expects audio’s share of ad spend to start to catch up with its consumption. Multi-Platform Group head Greg Ashlock predicts broadcast radio will be seen as the new reach medium. And Digital Audio Group head Conal Byrne foresees podcast advertising growing as a reach and frequency medium.

“Podcast audiences will continues to explode, passing the biggest music streaming services in reach, with no signs of growth abating,” Pittman says in an iHeart marketing piece for advertisers and agencies. “Even players like Facebook, Google and Amazon are leaning into podcasting due to its enormous growth and engagement,” Pittman adds.

The company did not say what its podcast revenue will be, but instead it looked at the big picture. Based on media projections from PwC, Magna, eMarketer, Morgan Stanley and B. Riley, iHeart says podcasting revenue will grow 31% to $1.74 billion in 2022. By 2025 the projection is for podcast ad revenues to surpass $3 billion.

The bullish outlook on the year echoes what a lot of other radio executives have been saying in recent days. But iHeart tells ad buyers that it is optimistic not only because of a strengthening ad market, but also because of how the fresh look that marketers are giving audio is playing out.

Last September, a report from the media and advertising research firm WARC found that audio captures 31% of media consumption but just 9% of ad spend. Troberman says 2022 will see that disparity begin to shrink as more marketers follow audiences into audio.

“Consumers now spend a third of their media time with audio, and we are already seeing partners right-size their audio investments,” Troberman says. “But getting beyond the spreadsheet and learning how to create a real human conversation with the consumer is the secret to winning in audio.”

As viewers continue their migration from broadcast and cable TV to over the top (OTT) video streaming services that carry no or low commercial loads, Ashlock predicts broadcast radio will be seen as the new reach medium. “Media planners will add more broadcast radio (AM/FM) to their plans to compensate for the decades-long decline of TV and other media, and to average down the cost of campaigns,” says Ashlock, CEO of the MultiPlatform Group that houses the company’s 865 radio stations.

Finally, Byrne predicts podcast advertising will continue to grow as a reach and frequency medium. “Host-read ads will continue to be critical for brands to drive real engagement,” Byrne says. But he predicts audience cohorts – meaning groups of people that are of likeminded interests like working moms or people with an interest in sports – will increasingly be a way that advertisers buy to complement host-read ads on media plans. That will allow those media plans to start driving “real scale” and attract larger ad budgets for podcast networks that have scale.“The ability to seamlessly connect those audience cohorts across broadcast, digital and podcasting will become increasingly important,” says Byrne.

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