A pair of prominent media buyers are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to approve a proposed rulemaking that would allow radio broadcasters to deliver geo-targeted programming and commercials by using FM boosters in local markets. Executives at Magna Global and Amplifi filed in support of the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and say they’re excited that the initiative is moving forward.
“We are very much looking forward to adoption of this rule change by the FCC,” said Kathy Doyle, Executive VP of Local Investment at ad agency Magna Global, part of IPG Mediabrands. “Permitting OTA geo-targeting of radio ads will bring a more informed approach to linear audio and will enable a move to audience informed investment.”
ZoneCasting would enable a station in New York, for example, to sell adds to a Long Island car dealer that would only run in the Long Island zone of its signal. A dry cleaner advertiser could place ads that just reach listeners in Connecticut.
“We are excited that the FCC has adopted the rule change that will allow over -the- air geotargeting of radio ads,” said Jennifer Hungerbuhler, Executive VP and Managing Director for Amplifi, the media investment group for Dentsu. Allowing stations to use the technology “could help local radio broadcaster and agencies like ours by enabling them to offer geo-targeted advertisements as well as programming, including traffic, weather, alerts and warnings.”
Advertiser Perceptions, which tracks ad decision makers at agencies and brand marketers, quizzed 301 national brands and media agencies in October 2019 for what’s called the “Madison Avenue Survey.” BIA Advisory Services then surveyed 300 local retailers in December 2019 for the companion “Main Street Survey.”
The joint studies found two-thirds of agency advertisers said they’re interested in using ZoneCasting – 17% very interested and 49% somewhat interested. One-half of this group said they are likely to spend more on broadcast radio because of it – 11% very likely and 38% somewhat likely.
Interest in ZoneCasting is appreciably higher among local advertisers. More than half of the Main Street sample (55%) said they’re very interested and 36% are somewhat interested. One one-half said they’re very likely to spend more on broadcast radio because of it and 38% indicated somewhat likely.
BIA consults GeoBroadcast Solutions, which filed a petition at the FCC to allow its ZoneCasting system to be used by FM stations nationwide. The FCC voted unanimously on Tuesday to launch a rulemaking proceeding on whether to do just that.
ZoneCasting relies on a network of synchronized FM boosters scattered across a market operating on the same frequency as their primary station. A broadcaster would originate localized content and insert it at specific and limited times on the booster signals while mostly retransmitting the primary station’s programming. That could mean airing different commercial breaks or high school football games depending on where in a market someone tunes in.