Tag Archives: Radio

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Purpose in Action with Radio Drives Business and Positive Change

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Author: Tammy Greenberg, SVP/Business Development, RAB

It has been well-documented that consumers, now more than ever, care deeply about how brands are addressing social and environmental issues. According to the 2020 Porter Novelli Executive Purpose Study, 89% of business leaders believe companies that lead with purpose have a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. In fact, 85% agree being a purpose-driven company drives profit. The bottom line is that in increasingly competitive markets, in just about every category of business, a brand’s contribution to society becomes the decisive point of difference for consumers.

Leading with purpose is not a new concept, but in the current social, medical, economic and political climate, the marketing shift has been ignited and fast-tracked. Throughout 2020, brands across all categories of business have expressed their humanity, by supporting consumers, small businesses and essential workers. These brands are contributing and leading social justice causes and using the power of their voice to publicly express their values and lead by example to inspire change and activate behavior.

Purpose can be defined as the motivation and focus that comes from a brand, business or individual’s values and visions. Action puts those values and visions into practice. The key to establishing lifelong and meaningful connections with consumers around purpose is by converting it to action. After all, purpose without action is pointless. Consumers know it and the adage “action speaks louder than words” is demonstrative of that. Without action, purpose is vulnerable to having negative effects.

Broadcast radio is no stranger to leading with purpose.

In exchange for obtaining a valuable license to operate a broadcast radio station that uses public airwaves, radio is required by law to operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity. This is simply the foundation.

Radio stations go well beyond what is required to unite audiences and present content across a wide spectrum of interests, giving consumers choices to consume what they want to hear and from whom they would like to hear it. Listeners in local communities rely on local radio brands for news and information, the music that soothes their souls, the conversation and companionship during both uncertain times and “normal” times.

According to an Accenture study, the opportunity for purpose-driven marketing lies in building more authentic relationships with consumers. This means meaningful relationships that shift the dialogue from “give me what I want” to “support the ideals we believe in.” Long-lasting relationships are grounded in a common purpose and built around a collective sense of belonging.

A focus group of consumers representative of varied demographics were asked by Jacobs Media Strategies, in their opinion, “what is radio’s job?” the answers ranged from providing security, camaraderie and connection, to providing the information and entertainment when and where they want to access it.

When brand leaders are asked about why radio matters, they say:

  • “Radio is a friend, colleague, it keeps me company. It is important to my local community, it is a facilitator, it is a driver.” Bob Liodice, Chief Executive Officer, ANA
  • “The personal relationship and the engagement that radio, in particular local radio, has with its daily listeners is authentic and intimate and unlike any other medium.” Doug Ray, CEO, Dentsu Media Americas
  • “Radio establishes one-to-one relationships in your skull like no other media can.” Kristy Carruba, Director, Audio Planning & Strategy, Macy’s
  • “Audio is the most important way to tell stories, move people and, therefore, move product.” Rishad Tobaccowala, futurist and author of the bestselling “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data”
  • “Radio provides a sense of joy through sound.” Whitney McChane, Vice President, Marketing Communications, International Dairy Queen
  • “Local radio is a medium that is entrenched in the communities it serves and the community is strongly connected to their local radio station. I believe that one of the greatest foundations you can have is local radio and local television.” Byron Allen, Chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group and the Founder of Entertainment Studios

Radio has always been known as a force for good that unites communities to act.

Consumers tune in to their favorite radio stations because they provide a reflection of who they are and help connect them to a community of shared values. Listeners rely on local radio personalities to entertain, inform and comfort them. They rely on these very real, very local, very relevant voices to share opinions and advice. Specific and niche groups of consumers rely on the change that mass-reaching radio broadcasts inspire in the local communities where they live.

COVID-19 profoundly impacted the way that media was consumed. As each state continued to usher in its own unique set of social-distancing guidelines, local communities banded together to stay updated, informed and actionable. Cox Media Group conducted a study to determine how this new sense of community fueled by micro-level legislation and health care impacted the way people consumed local audio. They learned that a massive 94% of consumers have listened to local radio since the outbreak began, while one-third said they had listened more. Tim Clarke, vice president of audience and content at Cox Media Group, said “listeners depend on our radio brands more than ever for local information, entertainment and companionship during this uncertain time. They are captive and immersed in our content on all platforms and our top personalities continue to deliver.”

Local communities leaned into their trusted companions and followed their lead to support healthcare workers, families in need, students, small businesses and the community at large. From PPE distribution events, to virtual learning and graduation events, food drives and advertising grants, radio stations rallied their audiences, united them, helped those that needed it most and protected local economies.

Systemic racism and corresponding social injustices have been brought to the forefront throughout 2020. According to a June 2020 Dentsu Pulse Navigator survey, while the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing economic crisis remained the top national issues concerning Americans, those concerned about racial equality had doubled in June 2020 since the question was first fielded in May. It exceeded concerns about unemployment and social unrest. 72% of those surveyed agree that brands have a responsibility to drive social change, and 69% agree those that support racial equality can make a real difference. Nationwide surveys reflect overwhelming support for protests in defense of racial equality and a need for vocal community support from local media. NuVoodoo’s Media & Protest Weekly Perception surveys among people of all races. The survey indicates 59% of consumers have a positive impression of ads that support Black Lives Matter on the radio.

The marketing and media community is answering its calling like never before to promote the fundamental values of equity, diversity and inclusivity. Radio’s reach and engagement among communities of all races is unsurpassed. Every broadcaster takes their responsibility of providing information, conversation, content and support that is reflective of ALL people very seriously. Examples of radio’s responsibility in action abound. Examples include:

Following the murder of George Floyd, Beasley Media Group (BMG) Detroit collaborated with local community leaders to host a Solutions, Not Slogans Zoom event, where local radio talent brought together a group of local civic leaders, police and concerned citizens to talk about how to ignite change in the local community. This event was followed by an October event focused on voting in the Motor City. Solutions, Not Slogans events, part of BMG’s “Community of Caring” are designed to provide an opportunity for radio listeners to speak directly with city officials to create solutions that motivate people to act.

Salem Media Group takes on systemic racism with a deep focus on the massive injustices in the American prison system and the impact on the vast numbers of minority incarcerated prisoners and their families. Through partnerships with Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree, Salem helps to provide rehabilitation and life skills to minority prisoners and activates its listening audience to raise funds to support families. Over the past three years, listeners have donated over one and a half million dollars enabling Salem’s radio stations to send over 7,500 children of prisoners to summer camps.

Making a difference in ALL lives is standard practice and a core mission of every radio station across the US. Supporting the health, education and safety of local communities is job one and is in great part why so many turn to their trusted radio station in times of crisis.

Radio has been known to save lives, feed and clothe families, educate kids, support local businesses, national and local charities and so much more.

One such example is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH), a banner organization responsible for raising money for 170 children’s hospitals in Canada and the United States. The organization is charged with filling the gap between what their partner hospitals are compensated for by patient care and what they truly need to save lives. The CMNH partnership with the radio industry and their radiothon platform, raised $38MM in 2019 alone. Maureen Carlson, chief program and marketing officer for CMNH stated in an RAB-hosted Open for Business with Purpose webinar, “Our partnerships with radio are very important to us, not only the reach of radio, but the ability to tell beautiful stories. Every dollar that is raised through our radiothons remain local, and it is very important to us to have partners, especially in media, that understand how to have local conversations, how to tell local stories and saturating a local market.”

Brands That Put Their Purpose in Action with Radio will Drive Business and Positive Change Forward

Shoppers are increasingly using their purchasing power as a way to support businesses with shared values. With more choices than ever before, consumers seek to align their purchase decisions with companies that exercise shared beliefs. 46% of surveyed US shoppers agreed that “I make a deliberate effort to shop at businesses that align with my values,” and 66% of US consumers who plan to shop during the 2020 holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses, according to a Google-commissioned Ipsos COVID-19 tracker.

Shared values matter and taking action to drive those values forward happen locally, at home and in the consumer’s line of vision. Marketers are recognizing that and are driving change and making a difference with the help of radio.

P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, has doubled down on the power of radio to put their purpose in action to drive change by supporting Black-owned broadcasters and with their “Take on Race” initiative.

Unilever turned to radio to support their United for America program that provides community-based support and food-based relief for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic effects.

CVS Health, a company that leads with empathy, does more in local radio than national because they can see specifically where they are relevant and not relevant and include messaging based on store formats and local consumer needs.

Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) in Los Angeles leans on radio to help drive awareness and provide critical advice to improve the quality of life for families in need and strengthen neighborhoods. Through their work, NHS has placed nearly five million families on the road to home ownership, employed over 238 neighborhood youth and reinvested nearly six billion dollars back into Los Angeles County’s most underserved neighborhoods. Their partnership with Black-owned broadcaster KJLH in Los Angeles has continuously played a major role in that success.

Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate turned to Salem Media Group-Twin Cities to help feed a community that the brand deeply serves. Several local brand partners turned to Neuhoff Media Group in Decatur, Illinois, to help raise over $600,00 in 12 hours to donate over three million pounds of food to at-risk communities.

Now is the Time to Put Purpose in Action with Radio

Every action a brand takes reflects its purpose and its beliefs. While addressing a confab of nearly 6,000 brand marketers, marketing solutions partners and media professionals at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer for P&G, stressed “our jobs are to step up for a force for good and a force for growth.” His key message to his fellow marketers is “step up.”

Now is the time to use radio’s megaphone to deeply reach into local communities and demonstrate to loyal listeners across all demographics and cultures that the brand has their backs.

As we usher in 2021, radio will continue to fulfill the responsibility it has to its listeners and the communities it serves. Radio will also continue to fulfill its responsibility to its marketing partners to provide the targeted, trusted media environment to reach and engage consumers with the power of the brands’ purpose and the power of the brands’ actions.




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Happy Anniversary, Radio!

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

This month marks radio’s 100th anniversary. It’s an incredible milestone, and never has radio been more important, valued or recognized as it has this past year.

From the first commercial radio broadcast on KDKA, to radio station streams on laptops or via apps, radio continues to play an important role. It touches the lives of listeners daily and impacts communities across the country.

As a medium licensed to serve the community, broadcast radio does just that. During times of crisis, radio informs and unites. It allows listeners to voice their concerns and provides them companionship. Companionship and the sound of a friendly voice has never mattered more than it has this year.

With the pandemic, listeners turned to broadcast radio to fill the void and eliminate the sense of isolation and loneliness that affected so many. According to Bob Liodice, CEO, Association of National Advertisers, “Radio is kind of like a substitute human.”

Broadcast radio allowed listeners to share their thoughts, concerns and emotions over the violence and systemic racism that has occurred this past year. The personalities on those stations helped to drive the important connection that listeners – people of all ages, race and ethnicities, sought during this most unusual time. “We had engaging conversations with our listeners. We opened our mics to make sure that people had an outlet and a place to be heard,” stated Jeff Warshaw, founder and CEO of Connoisseur Media, on radio’s role in the local community.

Yes, radio drives sales, awareness and influences behavior, but radio also does so much more. It is broadcast radio that helped communicate that local businesses were open, held food drives to help those communities in need and informed listeners where to find safety and shelter from natural disasters and also kept young students in touch with their teachers.

Although radio may be celebrating its 100th anniversary, it is still in its infancy. Radio continues to redefine itself. It is no longer a device that sits on nightstands. Radio is an app on a mobile device, a stream via a laptop, a skill on a smart speaker and available on gaming devices and refrigerators.

At the Radio Advertising Bureau, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate, not just radio’s past 100 years but its next 100 years. It couldn’t be more fitting that this month, RAB will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of its incorporation. We look forward to and are excited about radio’s bright future.

Join us in our celebration of radio’s anniversary by viewing the 2020 Sizzle Video and hear what radio means to broadcast and advertising professionals.

Won’t you share what radio means to you?

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Response Data is Rewriting the Way Radio is Sold and Bought

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Contributor: Rick Kestenbaum, General Manager, AnalyticOwl

As the old saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This is especially true in radio selling and buying, where a reliance on expensive ratings data and audience demos leads to buys made on the description of an audience rather than the actions of an audience. Contrast this with digital selling, where plans are made based on historical response and ROI. It’s clear which gets an advertiser off to a better start and which leads to greater satisfaction. Now, thanks to the rise of response data, radio can be sold and bought on the same game-changing premise.

According to the current approach, the focus is identifying “the right audience,” based on audience characteristics such as size, age, income, education, etc. The problem there is that the focus is not on what the advertiser cares about most – response and resulting revenue.

When a buy is made on this premise, there’s no opportunity for a meaningful discussion on results, leaving only “gut feelings” as a barometer, doing no one any good. Time goes by, and without any tangible measure, sellers are left without much to say and advertisers are prone to disillusionment. Often, this leads to cancellations and non-renewal of advertising that is quite commonly working just fine.

According to the new approach, sellers take two minutes and produce a custom, timely report highlighting actual response to recent campaigns in their local market and in their advertiser’s industry and advertisers use those insights to make a strong, measurable plan.

For example, here is data drawn from the auto dealers category in the Buffalo, NY market for September 2020. All are relevant, not only in giving advertisers confidence that radio works in driving increased website and foot traffic, but also in helping pre-optimize a campaign for a stronger start:

  • The top daypart for response was midday
  • The top day was Tuesday, creating an opportunity to convince prospects and existing advertisers to add Tuesdays if they aren’t already doing so
  • The top ad duration was :30
  • The expected ROI for a dealer who sells one car every hundred website visits, with a profit of $2,400, was $3 for every $1 spent
  • Auto dealers saw more website traffic days on air than days off air
  • Each aired spot resulted in an average of seven VPA (Visits Per Airing™)
  • The Response Opportunity was 37%, indicating that there were other dealers on the air and that a strategic presence is required to be competitive
  • Website visitors viewed an average of three pages, spent an average of over four minutes and bounced (left after viewing only one page) at a low 8% rate, demonstrating that broadcast audiences are engaged buyers
  • 94% of visitors responding to a spot used a search engine, and very few visited directly by typing in a dealer’s website address (despite the call to action!)
  • The top hours for foot traffic were 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and the top day was Tuesday, again suggesting a good opportunity

These figures will vary, of course, based on market, time period and other filtering factors, but clearly this is a game-changing shift that provides strong actionable insights.

From there, the new approach has seller, agency and advertiser in regular contact, reviewing the impact on website and foot traffic, analyzing which creative, days and dayparts are working best and optimizing to even better response.

What does this mean for radio sellers and buyers? More buys made with realistic, trackable expectations set, less need for advertisers to consider cancellation and more opportunity for advertisers to comfortably invest more in radio. AnalyticOwl found that those who were presented with response data cancelled 50% less often and confidently spent an average of 20% more.

That’s a win for all parties involved.

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Listeners Will Make Registers Ring This Holiday Season

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

Without a doubt, 2020 has been a most unusual year, and the need for good tidings and holiday cheer have never been apparent than now. Shopping this season will be a way that consumers will turn their focus from current events and concerns to celebrating the holidays and a hopeful return to the routines that they all miss.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Annual 2020 Holiday Survey, this year, consumers will spend $650 in gifts, $230 in nonholiday items, such as decorations, and $117 in other nongift purchases – each nearly flat to 2019 amounts.

Radio listeners are ready. They are ready to shop and spend time with family and friends this holiday season. According to the recently released third edition of Jacobs Media The Impact of COVID-19 on Radio Listeners, 70% plan spending money on clothing, and 66% plan on spending money on gift cards.

When it comes to 2020 holiday spending versus 2019, about 48% of radio listeners plan to spend the same or more. However, when you look at various generations, retailers would be suited to target Boomers and the Greatest Generation. Only 33% of Gen Z and 44% of millennials plan on spending the same or more – significantly less that their cohorts, with 51% of Boomers and 59% of the Greatest planning on spending the same or more than 2019.

As we have all seen, the role that local businesses play in communities has been magnified during the pandemic. When it comes to holiday shopping, the intent to patronize local business will be even greater this year. Based on this survey, 79% of radio listeners feel that they should support local/small businesses in their area. This sentiment was consistent among all survey respondents of all ages – from Gen Z to the Greatest Generation – local matters.

Gatherings are sure to be different this year as well for everyone. Fifty-nine percent of radio listeners strongly agree/agree that they will be having smaller holiday celebrations/get togethers than usual. The majority also plan on creating a festive environment in their homes – 70%. So, what influences them? Tops on the list are those that they will probably gather with this holiday, as recommendations from friends, family and colleagues influences their purchase decisions “a lot” or “a little.” Online user reviews are the second most influences, followed by AM/FM radio ads (65%). Recommendations from a favorite DJ/radio personality also influences their decisions.

2020 holidays are definitely going to be different, but the news is good for retailers. Radio listeners are ready to hear sleigh bells and make registers ring this holiday season.

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Being Thankful

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is here. It has been a very unusual year for everyone, and the pandemic has prompted many of us to stop and appreciate some of the things that we may have taken for granted in the past.

We’ve heard the impact that the pandemic has and hasn’t had on RAB members and readers of this blog. There are some areas/markets where businesses and communities are doing well. We also know that there are other areas where businesses and communities have been devastated, and there are markets that are somewhere in between. In any of these cases, broadcast radio and the on-air radio personalities have been there to help –communities, local businesses, students, etc. It is what over 15,000 local broadcast radio stations have always done and will continue to do.

It is interesting to hear what people are missing during these times. We’ve heard that people miss everything from commuting to work, to attending large conferences and even little things like a handshake or hug from colleagues and friends.

For those who celebrate, Thanksgiving will be different this year. However, the true meaning of Thanksgiving has never been underscored more. This year, despite the challenges and losses, we will all give thanks to heroes of 2020 – all those who have been on the front lines.

We are all thankful for the supermarket clerks who stock the shelves, delivery personnel transit workers and the places of worship with clergy that found creative ways to support their congregations. We are also thankful for the doctors, nurses and caregivers. Here’s to the organizations that have provided aid and food to local communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Thanks to listeners that tuned in to their local radio stations to find out where to shop, where to go and how to provide support. This year, we are thankful for friends, family and colleagues that have provided advice, guidance and support.

This holiday weekend, take some time to relax, unwind and give someone a heartfelt thanks and a hug – even if it’s a virtual one.

From everyone at the Radio Advertising Bureau, we wish you a heartfelt safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

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Smart Speakers – An Audio Opportunity

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

As holiday shopping goes into full swing, electronics will be one of the top items purchased this year. As many households continue to work from their remote locations, smart speakers are sure to be on many holiday shopping lists. As of this past June, NPD Group stated that nearly 30% of U.S. households were using smart speakers.

In study after study, smart speaker owners have stated that they are using their devices more during the pandemic – seeking out news, information and various content. Results from The Smart Speaker Report (Spring 2020), found that of those whose routine changed and are working from home, they continue to play music (85%), get the weather (71%), get news (54%) and listen to AM/FM radio (42%).

More recently, a market research and strategic advisory organization’s blog noted how the smart speaker is “leading to the reinvention of at-home audio” and references both broadcast radio, as well as podcasts. Within the blog post, the suggestion is that “smart speakers are the next frontier for consumer attention.” This is similar to something we have heard from Rishad Tobaccowala, senior advisor with Publicis Groupe, as the shift from “the colonization of the eyes to the colonization of the ears.”

There continues to be great opportunity for growth in the smart speaker space for advertisers to develop and tap into various ways to engage with smart speaker owners. Smart speakers can provide an additional means for advertisers to expand their brand activity in the way that they have used broadcast radio for brand building and increasing sales. Why? Smart speaker owners are radio listeners – 45% of smart speaker owners listen to AM/FM radio according to The Smart Audio Report (Spring 2020).

Based upon 2020 MRI-Simmons data, adults who have taken the following actions with smart speakers are radio listeners:

  • 83% have listened to live radio
  • 76% have gotten sports updates
  • 74% have purchased/ordered a product or service
  • 73% have gotten news updates
  • 72% have gotten local information, movie times, recipes, etc.
  • 70% have listened to a podcast

While we know that many consumers have returned to the roads to go back to work, there are still people working from home. As smart speaker sales and usage continues to grow, there are opportunities to reach radio listeners.

Alexa, play my favorite radio station!

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Making the Cash Register Ring: It’s All in the Message

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Contributor: Todd Kalman, Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketron

In the past, we’ve written about the merits of digital vs. traditional radio advertising tactics and how they can complement each other to accelerate revenues. But let’s be honest: it really doesn’t matter how the message gets into the marketplace. What matters is that the target consumer – the people with the power to make the cash register ring – will hear or see the message and act.

Advertising is a complex business, but it really boils down to two key objectives: getting people to do something or getting people to believe something. Engendering belief gets into the realm of pure branding campaigns, which can be cost-prohibitive and might not be practical for many local businesses. Therefore, our focus here is on ads with a specific call to action.

(Side note: Enough call-to-action advertising, done right and yielding solid results, might reinforce a brand by solidifying consumers’ beliefs about the company.)

It’s all about the key marketing objective.

Fleshing out the ultimate objective of the campaign is the critical starting point, and it’s a joint effort that leverages both the expertise of the radio sales rep and the first-hand business understanding of the marketer or business owner.

Take the example of a store that specializes in baby and children’s products. The shop is looking to boost sales and earn manufacturer’s incentives for its line of youth beds and mattresses. Working together, the sales rep and the store owner create a key marketing objective: How might we get a minimum of 30 high income ($75K+/yr) single parents/couples (A25-35), with children who are outgrowing their cribs, to purchase a youth bed during the month of October? An important element here is a key performance indicator (KPI); in other words, the target sales metric. The KPI is the magic number that will make everyone throw the proverbial party in honor of a successful campaign. In this example, the KPI for this shop is to sell 30 additional mattresses in October.

The Right Mix of Tactics

With the key marketing objective in place, the next step is to identify the mix of tactics that will hit that KPI. As we’ve said, the goal is to get consumers to act. You can walk down Main Street wearing a sandwich board, and if that’s what it takes to sell 30 additional mattresses, the campaign is a success. But a sandwich board probably won’t work for a business that caters to a narrower group of customers, such as an upscale baby products store.

By its very nature, radio casts a very wide net (hence the term “broadcast”). Chances are good that target consumers defined by the key marketing objective — higher-income parents 25 to 35 years old with children who are outgrowing their cribs — will be listening as they commute to and from work. These parents might represent a small fraction of the total drive-time audience, but since you’ve carefully narrowed down the key marketing objective, getting even a subset of very interested listeners to act might be all that’s needed to hit that magic number of 30 additional mattress sales during the month of October.

Integrating some digital advertising can supercharge the broadcast campaign and ensure that that subset will make the trip into the shop or make an online purchase. With digital, likely buyers can be targeted very specifically based on factors such as shopping history, web browsing history, location, age and gender. Maybe those target customers are now at work and sitting at their desks, browsing the internet as they have their first cup of coffee. If they already heard about the sale while driving in their cars, a digital display ad or pop-up video might be all it takes for them to click through to the store’s website and make an online purchase.

An Evolving Strategy

With any ongoing campaign, it’s important to revisit the key marketing objective regularly and recalibrate it as needed to fit season changes and other market factors. A bicycle shop marketing to bike commuters, for instance, could shift to promoting fat-tire bikes as fall turns into winter and the snow starts to fall. Did the initial campaign month deliver the promised results? If not, maybe it’s time to refresh the copy and fine-tune the messaging or revisit the original sales goal.

This ongoing, strategic management of the campaign is why it’s so important for advertisers to be strongly allied with their sales reps. In fact, radio sales professionals are some of the best-trained media consultants out there, and they’re well-versed in campaigns that successfully leverage both traditional and digital tactics. Plus, sales reps have the vantage point of the station’s unique position in the community and long, proven track record of success for their customers.


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Here’s the Buzz from Radio Week

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

Engagement. Local. Heart. Soul. Creativity. Partnerships. Those were words that resonated across the various sessions and events that took place during Radio Week.

From Oct. 5 – 9, CEOs, managers, sellers, radio personalities and some the brightest creative directors participated in two of radio’s biggest events – Radio Show and the Radio Mercury Awards.

Like other 2020 industry conference, these were virtual. But the passion, excitement and enthusiasm for broadcast radio and its ability to connect, engage and support listeners and local businesses was as live as if held at an event venue.

Here are some of the things shared during the Radio Mercury Awards and Radio Show 2020:

  • “Leading with heart and soul is about ourselves. How do we upgrade our own emotional and operating systems? What is important is that no company or team can transform unless the individuals in the company transform.” – Rishad Tobaccowala, futurist, author and senior advisor, Publicis Groupe
  • “This industry has seen wars, depressions and recessions. It’s a resilient media and, looking forward, I think there’s no question that it will rebound from this experience as well.” – Hubbard Radio CEO
  • “This year will be known as another time in history when humanity found itself challenged, not only in the face of a pandemic, but by social change,” said final round judge John Matejczyk, CCO/Co-Founder, MUH-TAY-ZIK/HOF-FER San Francisco. “Radio has shown what it does best during these unprecedented times by connecting and giving a platform for our communities to be heard.”
  • “I love it when people say that no one listens to the radio anymore and I bring that conversation up on the air. I’ll mention their name on the air and maybe even the area where they live. If you know them, let them know and their phone ends up blowing up. We’ve even used that with clients. It disproves the theory that no one is listening immediately. – Woody Fife, on-air personality, Alt LA, “The Woody Show”
    “We need your superpower and commitment to be diligent with us to accelerate our force for good and force for growth mission.” Radio has a unique capability unlike other media channels that is critical for this Force for Good and Force for Growth work to succeed and be sustainable. Radio can inform at the local level, have two-way communication between talent and audiences in real time, DJs know their communities, their audiences, how to talk to them and how to mobilize them for good.
  • “Radio has preserved, as it always does in times of crisis,” David Fields, Entercom President and CEO said about the challenges radio faced this year. “It’s been there for the American public as a source of solace and respite, providing great news, information and companionship – all the things radio does.”
  • Radio’s commitment to serve is as strong as ever. It is “at the intersection of commerce and community” – Brian Buyers, VP of Development, Neuhoff Media
  • “(Radio is) that person in the empty seat next to you in the car every day, the person who talks to you in the shower, or when you’re getting dressed and getting out of bed, when you’re cooking, eating, doing yard work, doing house work… we keep people company wherever they want us to keep them company,” he said. “Unlike other media, people don’t come to radio for an hour – and that’s it for the day. They’re checking in through the day… In times like these, radio has strengthened that relationship with the consumer.” – Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia
  • “I think my takeaway is that this (pandemic) will be part of history and it has changed how we are doing radio,” noted DeDe McGuire, on-air personality, “DeDe in the Morning.” “The way we are receiving information, the way we are listening and the ways to deliver it have changed and especially with utilizing social media, it has been a great learning experience and made me step up my game.”
  • “A lot of folks are (negative about) local radio. I think it’s a phenomenal business because of that localization. You’re in the market. You live in the market. You know the community, and the community knows you,” he said. “I think local radio is going to be very important going forward because of localization.” – Byron Allen, Chairman/CEO, Allen Media Group and founder Entertainment Studios
  • “(But) with the industry’s ability to broadcast from anywhere and everywhere, the audio platform has been extraordinarily resilient. Consumer behavior radically changed during the shutdown, as you can imagine. But audio for the most part has remained really a vibrant part of the daily lives of our listeners.” – Mary Berner, President and CEO, Cumulus Media
  • “For real change to take place, there must be a willingness to cede power. The power dynamic has been obscenely skewed and just not equitably distributed. There must be an acknowledgement that everyone does not have the same power and there needs to be a willingness or an eagerness to cede power and/ or to use your power to empower someone else.”
  • On Connoisseur Media’s adaptability at the onset of COVID-19, Jeff Warshaw, founder and CEO stated, “this was the time that our licenses and obligations to serve our communities were really put to the test. We had engaging conversations with our listeners. We opened our mics to make sure that people had an outlet and a place to be heard.”
  • The growth of podcasting and interest in creating podcasts is shown by people who have never been involved in audio before. Attributing podcasting’s growth to the speed, ease and joy of it, Mangesh Hattikudar, SVP, Podcast Development, IHeartMedia/Stuff Media stated, “It’s the joy of producing and connecting with an audience fairly close to immediately is something you just don’t get in a lot of places.”
  • “Talent is really willing, able and anxious to connect. “It’s a critical part, particularly in this environment, making everyone feel comfortable and connected and that’s what radio talent is best at – better than any other talent in any other medium – its connecting with the listeners, and that’s what advertisers want.” – Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, CEO, A Wonder Media Company, LLC
  • “I flip the radio on, and I’ve got some ‘interruptions,’ if you will.” He said the personalities talking on the radio – even the commercials, felt like “a couple extra people that are with me and I am no longer alone.” – A survey panelist on the companion aspect of radio

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Back-to-School … at Home

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

It’s August! Did you know that August is considered National Back-to-School Month? It’s the time when parents of school-aged children are in the deep throes of clothing, shoes and school-supply shopping. This year will be no different from any other.

Unlike what occurred earlier this year, families can now plan ahead. A recent Zulily survey, found that 63% of moms say that it is important to plan for a “worse-case scenario.” Despite the uncertainty of how schools will open, students and parents intend on doing back-to-school (BTS) shopping.

Based on a YPulse survey, 54% of parents plan on doing BTS shopping this year, but plans can change. According to results from this same survey:

  • 69% of parents might not need to shop because of COVID-19
  • 62% will wait until classes start to shop

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), families with children attending grades 12 and under will spend nearly $800 this year. Families with college students plan on spending well over $1,000. In each case, these numbers are up and may even be higher than initially expected, as many parents are prepping for at-home learning.

So, how will this money be spent? According to the NRF, while some spending will be allocated to clothing, shoes and school supplies, electronics/computer-related equipment spending is projected see the greatest spike. Families with back-to-schoolers (K-12) will spend nearly 35% more on average on electronics/computers – close to double 2019’s total. Families with college-bound students are projected to spend 11% more on average (than in 2019) on electronics/computers.

Along with these traditional purchases, what will be new to everyone’s list are cleanliness products. A Rakuten Advertising survey found that 28% of grade/high school students’ shopping lists were comprised of cleanliness products like tissues, face masks and hand sanitizers, compared to college student lists at 26%. Regardless of which survey you review, the overwhelming method of purchase for any scholastic items will be online.

While it may be back to school at home this year, holiday shopping is also on the minds of families. According to the Rakuten Advertising survey, 60% of BTS shoppers are also browsing for holiday gifts and over 35% are buying school supplies and holiday gifts.

As noted before, radio drives search for various products and services. Radio can connect advertisers with listeners who have children of any school age. Based on MRI data, 77% of adults with college-bound students and 80% of households with children ages 6-17 are broadcast radio listeners. Radio listeners are a rich target for advertisers of various retail categories.

Without a doubt, it will be hectic for families this year, even with planning. Moms are most concerned about health, juggling work, parenting and online learning, according to the Zulily survey.

During this back-to-school-at-home season, advertisers who have the goods and services that parents need can use radio to not only promote safety of in-store shopping but, just as importantly, communicate how families can shop online for the back-to-school needs from the safety and convenience of their own home.

What are some of the creative ways you’ve prepped for back-to-school? We’d love to know.

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Political Media Buying 2020: How Has the Coronavirus Impacted Strategies June 2020 Update – Part 2

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Contributor: Leo Kivijarv, Ph.D., Executive Vice President & Director of Research of PQ Media

In August 2019, PQ Media projected that political media buying would reach $8.33 billion in 2020. This projection was made before Michael Bloomberg became a Democratic presidential candidate and spent over $500 million in his failed attempt to win the nomination. Additionally, since the original projection was made, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, requiring politicians to revise their media buying strategies because planned rallies and fundraising events had to be cancelled.

Since the last blog post, a few items have happened which will impact the 2020 presidential and other elections.

  • Joe Biden won all the primaries and caucuses held on June 2 and June 9. As a result, he has secured the necessary number (1,991) of delegates to win the nomination during the August Democratic National Convention.
  • Donald Trump has asked that the Republican National Convention be moved out of North Carolina after its Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, was hesitant to relax social distancing rules for the planned Charlotte venue. As of June 15, Jacksonville, Florida has replaced Charlotte, although there are still debates being waged on whether social distancing will limit the number of real-time attendees.
  • Polls released during the weeks of June 8 and June 15 show that Biden’s lead is widening nationwide and in key battleground states. Trump’s tough “law and order” stance during the George Floyd protests around the country did not sit well many Americans.
  • The National Bureau of Economic Research officially announced that the U.S. entered into a recession in February 2020, stating it was “so steep” that the announcement came earlier than normal.
  • The positive May jobs report may have been incorrect due to a “misclassification error.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted that its monthly household survey had mistakenly counted 4.9 million people as employed in April and May, although they were unemployed. Thus, the April unemployment rate was actually 19.5%, not 14.7%, and May was 16.1%.
  • Coronavirus cases have been increasing in 23 states in June, particularly in Arizona, Texas and California. Florida closed some businesses and beaches due to the unexpected increase only a week after giving permission for them to open.
  • Additional Democratic VP candidates have surfaced. Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms improved her national name recognition with her actions during the George Floyd protests in her city. Former national security advisor Susan Rice have also been mentioned.
  • Trump to hold his first rally since March on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but it is not without controversy. Given the recent rash of protests, many individuals and groups were shocked that he chose Tulsa, home to the 1921 massacre of black business people. He was forced to move the date from June 19 to June 20, after it was determined that the original date coincided with Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery.

Analysis of Other Races

It should be noted that some issues impacting the presidential race discussed in the previous blog have relevance in other races as well, particularly COVID-19 and the economy. If an incumbent senator, governor, or house candidate is in a state severely impacted by the virus and unemployment, their chances of retaining the seat are hindered. The issues of mail-in ballots and voter suppression could also affect how many people vote in various states. Many pundits are currently predicting high turnout in select states that have been adversely affected by the two issues referenced above, but which could be mired in chaos during the November election as tabulated results will be delayed due to the voting process. For example, the Georgia primary in June was considered chaotic due to the closure of many voting venues in low income neighborhoods and the placement of new machines that poll workers didn’t know how to use.


After the White House, the most prized possession of the 2020 elections is control of the Senate. Polls suggest that a majority of Americans were frustrated that Senate Republicans voted down numerous measures during the impeachment trial, like interviewing new witnesses. The Republicans want to retain control of the Senate in order to push their conservative agenda, particularly relating to the appointment of federal judges, including too many that the American Bar Association deemed as “not qualified” due to the lack of trial experience. The Democrats want to gain control of the Senate to help push through more than 300 bipartisan and progressive bills that the House passed during the past two years, but which have been tabled by the current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

There are 35 seats up for grabs during the 2020 election – 23 Republican / 12 Democratic. The current ratio is 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats (Independents, like Bernie Sanders tend to vote with Democrats). Democrats take control if they win the White House and capture three seats, or four seats if Trump retains the presidency. Almost half (11) of the Republican seats are considered safe (AK, AR, ID, LA, MS, NE, OK, SD, TN, WV, WY) and two-thirds (8) of the Democratic seats (DE, IL, MA, NH, NJ, OR, RI, VA). That leaves 16 seats that will generate the most political media buying.

Two of the four remaining Democratic seats are considered “likely” Democratic – an open seat in New Mexico and Smith in Oregon, two states in which Biden is expected to gain the electoral votes. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any polls since COVID-19 hit to determine sentiment in those two states. The Republicans are most likely to target Peters in Michigan and Jones in Alabama. There have been no 2020 polls in Michigan to ascertain Peters’ strength, while Jones is behind three different Alabama Republican primary candidates in February polls. If the Jones seat switches back to Republican, the Democrats would have to win four current Republican seats if Biden is elected, five seats if Trump remains the president. As stated a few weeks ago, the 2018 blue wave that helped Democrats in the House was not emulated in Senate races, where Republicans won three of four toss-ups, so it’s an uphill battle.

There are only four toss-up seats, all currently held by Republicans – McSally (AZ), Gardner (CO), Collins (ME) and Tillis (NC). Recent polls have the Democratic candidates increasing leads in Arizona (Kelly) and Colorado (Hickenlooper), in some instances by double digit rates. In Maine, Collins held a solid double-digit lead in 2019 polls, but the Democratic candidate (Gideon) has a single-digit lead in the three polls taken in 2020. North Carolina remains tight, with a late May poll favoring Tillis, while an early June poll favors the Democratic candidate (Cunningham).

Since the margin of error is so thin, the Democrats will target five additional Republican seats currently categorized at “lean Republican”: Perdue (GA), Loeffler (GA), Ernst (IA), Open (KS), and Daniels (MT). In Montana, the dynamics changed when popular Democratic governor Bullock dropped out of the presidential race and entered the Senate race. In a May poll, Bullock took a seven-point lead over Daniels after being even in March when he first entered the race. The Kansas open seat candidates won’t be chosen until August 4, although Kobach and Marshall are the leading candidates to face presumptive Democratic candidate Bollier. In April-to-June polls, Bollier leads Kobach, but trails Marshall. In Iowa, the first poll taken in June shows that Democratic challenger Greenfield has opened a lead on Ernst, some of which has been attributed to the more than $60 million spent on TV and radio leading up to the June primaries, double what was spent in four other states combined that were also holding June Senate primaries.

Georgia has two Senate elections in 2020 after Isakson resigned due to his health in late 2019 and the governor appointed Loeffler until the special election is held in November. By Georgia law, there is no primary, so all candidates will be listed on the ballot in November. Loeffler is being challenged on the Republican side by a Georgia House Representative Collins, whom Trump supports. On the Democratic side, three candidates will vie for the nomination – Lieberman, Tarver and Warnock. In a mid-May poll, Loeffler trailed all three Democratic candidates while Collins beat Tarver, was even with Lieberman and trailed Warnock. If none of the five major candidates receives at least 50.1% of the vote in November, a runoff with the top two candidates will occur in January. Some party officials are asking two of the three Democratic candidates to drop out so that the Democratic votes won’t be split, as there is concern that both Republican candidates could reach the January runoff. Meanwhile, Perdue’s reelection bid is on hold as he was unable to win 50.1% of the vote in the June 9 primary, and thus a runoff is scheduled for August. His presumed Democratic opponent (Ossoff) led in a June poll, after trailing in May, so some might consider this a “toss-up,” rather than “lean Republican.”

As to “likely Republican” candidates, there has been a major shift since February, with two “safe” seats becoming more competitive – McConnell in Kentucky and Graham in South Carolina. Cornyn in Texas has been categorized as “likely” since the beginning of the year. Many believe that McConnell has curried enough political favors in Kentucky over the years that he’ll be able to retain his seat, and subsequently the powerful Speaker of the House position. However, his presumptive Democratic opponent (McGrath) lead in a June poll after trailing in February and throughout 2019. Meanwhile, Graham’s double-digit lead in February has evaporated and his Democratic opponent (Harrison) pulled even in a late May poll. Some wonder why Cornyn is included in this category because he had double-digit leads in March and May polls over two potential Democratic opponents (Hegar and West).

Five months is a long time in Senate races. FiveThirtyEight did an exhaustive analysis of Senate polls during the last eleven elections dating back to 1998. Although they appear to be more accurate than state-level presidential polls, there is a large margin of error – in some instances up to five points. That is, a Democratic candidate could have a two-point lead in the polls but lose the election by three points, which would fall within that statistical parameter of +/-5%. A better indicator of which candidate will carry a state won’t be determined until the October polls are conducted. Because of this uncertainty, both political parties will invest heavily in the sixteen states discussed here. It becomes an issue if any of these states are presidential battleground states, as advertising and marketing inventory will become tight. For example, Arizona and North Carolina are toss-up states in both the presidential and senate races, so TV and radio ad inventory in markets like Charlotte and Phoenix will be in great demand.

House of Representatives

 The magic number is 218 – number of seats required to have control of the lower house of Congress. Currently, Democrats control 233 seats, the Republicans 201, with one Libertarian. In order for Republicans to regain control of the House, they need to retain all their seats and flip 17 Democratic seats – a very tall order given the current prognostications of The Cook Report and Inside Elections. When Democratic safe, lean and likely seats are combined, both sources already have the Democrats keeping control of the House regardless of the toss-up/tilt results – 220 seats and 223 seats, respectively, including three Republican districts that are projected to switch to the Democratic party.

There are 26 House races that are considered “toss-up” races (see table below). Of these, 17 are currently Democratic districts, nine are Republican districts. Almost none are in the six toss-up presidential election states, with the exception of three in Pennsylvania, thus media buying might not be much of an issue for House candidates. If the list expands to include the presidential lean/likely states, more House candidates could find TV and radio inventory issues, including Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Texas.

The House races also differ from presidential, senate and gubernatorial races, because candidates only need to purchase the DMA(s) in which their districts are located versus needing to buy inventory in every state DMA. For example, the PA-01 candidates only need to purchase local media in Philadelphia, the PA-08 candidates in Wilkes-Barre and the PA-10 candidates in Harrisburg. COVID-19 is probably less an issue, since statewide initiatives determined if and when social distancing and stay-at-home edicts were enforced. The economic health of select DMAs and the recent reactions by the incumbent to the race protests would be better indicators as to whether the party can hold onto the seat. There haven’t been many polls taken for House seats since the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the polls taken since March, both parties can tout some minor victories. For example, the Democrats are gaining ground in Iowa, while the Republicans have rebounded in Georgia. The expected outcome is that one party will gain approximately five seats (e.g., Democrats will rise to 238 seats OR Republicans up to 206 seats).

The number of other House battleground districts, designated as “lean” or “likely,” is a matter of debate. The Cook Report lists 60 districts that would meet these criteria, Inside Elections only 33 districts. The districts that are the most important are those in the six presidential toss-up states, as these House elections could drive voters to the poll in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd district. Many other presidential battleground states also have contentious House races that could engage voters in places like Houston, Atlanta, Denver and Bangor.

Toss-Up Races

Lean/Likely Candidates


There are 11 gubernatorial races, not 13 as stated a few weeks ago. More than half are either safe Democrat or Republican – DE, IN, ND, UT, WA and WV. Of the remaining five races, two are likely Republican: MO and VT, while NH is a lean Democratic and NC a lean Republican. The latter two are the only contentious gubernatorial races that are occurring in states that have are among the 16 presidential battleground states.

Only one gubernatorial race is true toss-up – Montana. Current governor Bullock is not allowed to seek another term and is running for the Senate instead. Primaries were held on June 2, with Gianforte, a House member, winning the Republican nod and Cooney, the current lieutenant governor, winning the Democratic nod. No polls have been taken yet to determine if one of the candidates has a slight edge.

Ballot Initiatives & Referendums

Over the last two weeks, an additional nine referendums have been certified to bring the total to 90. On June 15, 2016, there were 106 measures and 116 on the same date in 2012, years in which the final totals were 162 and 188 referendums, respectively. Based on previous trends, 2020 will most likely have the lowest number of ballot initiatives in more than decade, with less than 150 referendums.

Many referendums are not considered “vote drivers” – issues that lead to high engagement among voters. Taxes, bonds, education and voting procedures make up the majority of initiatives, which are not vote drivers. Three issues in 2020 are expected to increase voter engagement: a) marijuana (MS, NJ, SD); b) gambling (MD, SD) and c) healthcare/abortion (AR, CO, LA, ME, MO, OK). Most states with vote drivers won’t make a difference, as they are primarily in safe Republican seats, with CO and ME the exceptions.

 State & Local Races

Democrats are hoping to flip eight state chambers in 2020: AZ, FL, IA, MI, MN, NC, PA and TX – all presidential battleground states, including four of the six toss-up states. These could prove to be better “vote drivers” than referendums. The Democrats are hopeful that the blue wave of 2018, in which they flipped six state chambers, will continue in 2020. Meanwhile, Republicans have targeted seven states that are currently Democratic controlled: CT, CO, ME, NH, NM, NV and NY, of which four are battleground states, but no toss-ups.

Meanwhile, there are 212 mayoral races to be decided in November, primarily in CA, FL and TX. There are 59 contests in cities with over 100,000 population, but only two in cities with more than 1 million people – Phoenix and San Diego, of which Phoenix is in a presidential toss-up state and might be a vote driver. While there are contentious races in other large cities, like Baltimore, most are not in states that are considered presidential battleground states. Other than Phoenix, 21 other cities with over 100,000 population are in battleground states, of which 14 are in Texas – Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Garland, Killeen, Denton, Waco, Carrolton, Round Rock, Abilene, Pearland, Odessa, Sugar Land, Wichita Falls and Allen. The seven other cities include: Winston Salem (NC), Hollywood (FL), Coral Springs (FL), Ann Arbor (MI), Palm Bay (FL), High Point (NC), and Pompano Beach (FL).

Revised 2020 Political Media Buying Projection

In August 2019, PQ Media projected that political media buying would reach $8.33 billion in 2020. This projection was made before Michael Bloomberg became a Democratic presidential candidate and spent over $500 million in his failed attempt to win the nomination. Additionally, since the original projection was made, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, requiring politicians to revise their media buying strategies because planned rallies and fundraising events had to be cancelled. That said, the April-to-August time frame is often the slowest of the political media buying cycle. Primary spending decelerates rapidly as the frontrunners are identified and both parties wait until after their conventions to start reaching out to target audiences. There was a slight anomaly in 2020 as some primaries for Senate and House seats were pushed back due to COVID-19, but in many instances the delayed primaries were not very contested, thus additional SuperPac monies were not a necessity to get favorites elected.

However, social distancing and stay-at-home edicts led to an increase in media consumption. Television viewing surged, particularly on streaming services. Audio listenership jumped, especially on podcasts. Print media readership leapt, although most of the gains were attributed to the digital extensions of newspapers and magazines. Online and mobile usage skyrocketed, some of which was driven by an increase in virtual video teleconferences, straining broadband bandwidth. Direct mail distribution and telemarketing rose to reach the stay-at-home voters. Public relations and influencer marketing took on added importance as politicians had to defend statements made about the impeachment trial, coronavirus and racial unrest. Branded promotional products, like issue-oriented face masks gained in popularity. Market research became more vital in determining the degree of importance of various issues, particularly the impeachment, COVID-19/healthcare, economy and race relations.

From a political media buying perspective, only two media platforms were adversely affected by COVID-19: out-of-home media and experiential marketing. Fewer people were driving in March and April, almost 50% below normal traffic patterns. There was also less foot traffic to many digital out-of-home venues due to closures of movie theaters, gym, salons and office buildings, among others. Experiential marketing was the hardest hit, as consumer political events were cancelled or postponed due to social distancing guidelines. For example, Trump went more than three months without holding a rally. Meanwhile, both conventions have been altered, with the Democratic convention pushed back a month and the Republican convention moved from North Carolina to Florida. Although candidates attempted to hold viral events, attendance suffered, and the lack of voter engagement was evident.

Despite spring and summer being slow political media buying months, politicians were aware of the increased media consumption and placed ads in various media platforms to reach larger audiences than normal during these months. Additionally, politicians were able to reach these larger audiences at a relatively low CPM rate, as most media operators had to drop fees because regular advertisers left in droves, particularly small local businesses and industry verticals impacted by the virus, like airlines, hotels and entertainment.

Revised Total Media Buying by Platforms

As a result of the issues outlined in this blog and the previous one on the presidential race, PQ Media has revised its 2020 political media buying projection up to $9.33 billion, representing a 28.8% increase over 2016 spending. Spending on broadcast television (local and network) will exceed $4 billion for the first time ever ($4.05B), driven by presidential candidates using network television much more than in past campaigns, such as Bloomberg and Trump both spending over $5 million each airing ads during the Super Bowl. Direct mail will rank second in spending, reaching $1.81 billion, fueled by an increase in local politicians using the medium during the COVID-19 pandemic in lieu of holding rallies. Digital media – online and mobile media – will represent 13.2% of political media buying ($1.28 billion), spurred by social media and digital video advertising. Mobile media will exhibit the largest gain compared with the 2016 elections, up 329.4%, as smartphone penetration has almost doubled since the last presidential election. Other media platforms registering growth rates over 50% include public relations & influencer marketing; internet media; promotional products, such as MAGA hats and market research. Two media platforms will post declines in 2020 compared with the 2016 elections – newspapers and experiential marketing, the latter driven by fewer rallies and fundraising events due to social distancing and stay-at-home measures.

Where Does Radio Fit?

Since this blog is being written for the Radio Advertising Bureau and the question is always “where does radio fit?” Audio advertising is expected to rise 29.3% (compared with 2016) to $529 million, with digital platforms fueling the growth, such as podcasts. Historically, radio benefits from multiple contentious races in select states, as campaigns turn to audio when television inventory becomes tight. Additionally, multicultural audiences over-index in audio consumption, thus many candidates will attempt to reach African American and Hispanic voters using this medium, particularly in toss-up states.

(Click here to download this and additional charts.)

Total Media Buying by Campaign Categories

Presidential campaigns are the largest of the six campaign categories at $3.17 billion, representing a 41.6% increase over 2016 spending, spurred by Bloomberg’s self-financed campaign during the primaries. Some Senate campaigns are expected to break records, such as the Kentucky and South Carolina battles to replace among the most vocal Republicans supporters of Trump, McConnell and Graham, which will drive a 26.8% increase in spending compared with 2016, reaching $2.41 billion. Meanwhile, the gubernatorial and referendum categories will post the slowest growth, compared with the 2016 elections due to fewer contested races and initiatives being registered, respectively.

Key DMAs

In which markets will media operators exhibit the strongest growth in political media buying? To answer that question, one must examine the battleground states for the various campaign categories. For example, both the presidential election and Senate seat in North Carolina are considered toss-ups, in addition to select markets that have contentious House and/or local elections. Based on PQ Media analysis, the following 20 DMAs are expected to have major advertising and marketing inventory issues because multiple candidates will be buying time or space. Rankings are based on the closeness of races (e.g., toss-ups vs. lean/likely) and the type of campaign categories expected to spend more than others (e.g., presidential vs. local).

Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock-Hill (NC/SC) is expected to post the greatest growth rate due to a high number of contentious races. Four other North Carolina markets rank in the top six in political media buying (PMB) growth – Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville, Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point, Greenville (NC)-New Bern-Washington and Greenville (SC)-Spartanburg-Asheville. Houston-Galveston is the largest market, ranked eighth by Nielsen’s 2020 TV DMA rank. Other large markets include Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit and Denver-Boulder. There are 12 small markets (ranked 100th or lower by Nielsen), including Presque Island (ME) and Great Falls (MT).

Top 25 DMAs with Multiple Contentious Races

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