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How Audio and Brand Safety are Perfect Partners

Audio plays well as social faces brand safety issues and rising CPMs

Call me crazy but when it comes to purchasing ads for your brands, safety should not be a required part of the conversation.

What should be part of the conversation? Maybe something like: “Hey, great to see you again. We’re happy we can help you grow your business. As a loyal customer, you can enjoy a few perks we’ve created to help you save money. Oh, and by the way we’re adding something to your buy to make your investment work even harder. Thanks for choosing us, because, as you know, we’re a trusted media partner that delivers results.”

OK, maybe your account team doesn’t sound quite like that.  But should companies and organizations really have to worry about brand safety? If you advertise on social media or rely on programmatic ad buying, the unfortunate answer is yes.

In fact, eMarketer reported in the fall that research by GumGum and Digiday shows that more than two-thirds of U.S. marketers have been exposed to brand safety issues at least once and suffered from a brand safety threat more than once in the past year.

Brand safety encompasses a broad swath of issues including having brand messaging and ads run in conjunction with fake news, disaster tragedy, copyright infringement, divisive politics and hate speech.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that social media, along with its popular programmatic buying scheme, remains unregulated.  It is void of the same standards that are applicable to traditional media. TV, radio and print operate within industry-wide standards. Sure, regulations have their drawbacks but standards help maintain transparency and integrity for brands and mediums alike.

“Ad standards and transparency are critical needs in a complicated, fragmented ecosystem where content is unlimited and ad networks are relied upon to deliver audiences.

Brands must have confidence in brand safety and in the ability to quickly determine both in advance and upon ad delivery where the ad ran and in what context and all of the particulars surrounding that” says Natalie Swede Stone, U.S. Director, National Radio for OMD.

Add to the mix these troubling trends:

  • Ad Fraud: Advertisers are expected to lose $10.9 billion of their budget to ad fraud by 2021, according to Forrester.
  • Third Party Data Sales: Facebook’s debacle with third-party data sales continues to mount. Following the disclosure in the spring that the company provided user profile information to Cambridge Analytica, the company was also recently found to have shared user information with device makers.
  • Social Challenges: CMOs admit they are not quite sure of how well social media plays out with their brands or their budgets. The 20th Annual CMO Study by Deloitte reveals that on a scale of 1 to 7, CMOs give social media a 4.1 on how well it connects to the organization’s overall marketing strategy and rates social media a 3.3 on the degree in which social media contributes to its company’s performance.

Some of these trends are sending some advertisers to flee social media, especially Facebook. A recent Digiday story highlighted several direct-to-consumer brands that are curtailing their ad spend on Facebook. The watch company, MVMT, has cut its Facebook spend to 30% of its budget while bumping up traditional media to 30%. Marketers are reallocating budget back to traditional mediums, including radio, which continues to evolve with relevance. Radio today is not just AM/FM, it’s audio – all content and all sources, including smart speakers. Inside Radio reports that 38% of smart speaker owners tune into AM/FM music on their devices. We owe it to our clients and ourselves to remind them of the value of traditional ad outlets – especially audio.

“With so much to choose from, clients are in a good position to derive value from terrestrial through its sizeable reach, from streaming and podcasting, to delivering younger audiences in a low clutter environment and satellite and public radio to target upscale audiences,” says Stone. “Given consumers continuing need to multitask and visual media’s overcrowding, audio is uniquely positioned to increase relevance and impact for advertisers.”

What makes audio so appealing as a medium, beyond reasonable CPMs of $10.97 and reach, is audience commitment. Listeners choose a station for a personality or a topic. Personalities are real and human and connect with their listeners. Safety is already built into platform because if it’s on air, it has already cleared for air. Formats and personalities are vetted and tested before they hit the airwaves.

Getting your brand into the audio mix is easy and getting easier. Our ecosystem is fairly simple compared to the complex process of programmatic. And when we launch the Entercom Audio Network on July 1, the national network will allow advertisers to leverage Entercom’s scale with targeted offerings to pull from its portfolio of 235 top-rated radio stations. That means access to more than 112 million listeners monthly.

When audiences listen and they’re engaged or moved, they react by going to an advertiser’s website. We use Entercom Audience Analytics to measure, within eight minutes, the incremental traffic that goes to a web site after hearing an ad. We can also measure the effectiveness of each piece of creative to work with partners in shaping the most effective commercials. Our audiences seek out our content – it’s not served up and force fed to them amid billions of other impressions.

Can your brand really make an impact with a medium that serves up billions of impressions and controls nearly one-fifth of the world’s global ad revenue? Call me crazy, but I don’t think so.

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