The radio value proposition // The future of media trading
The final listening figures for radio before the lockdown kicked in cements its reputation as a strong medium resilient to so many of the threats many people in the past expected would hammer it.
Indeed, commercial radio saw its reach rise above the 36 million mark once again, proving there's always space for ad funded media even when you have a powerful and enduring proposition from the BBC.
You can read who was up, who was down and what industry experts thought here.
Our big question here, however, is what lockdown will do to the listening figures, and what the ad slump will do to the revenues.
Rajar’s Q1 results only captured the first week of lockdown, and the research body encountered challenges collating its panel data in weeks 12 and 13. As such, Rajar used 2019 data and configured it to fit into the Q1 2020 design.
Anecdotal evidence, and drawing on the self-reported data and research from the big radio networks, suggests that in-line with other media, listening will be up during the lockdown period, and probably substantially.
However, as we reported at the start of the crisis ('The lost quarter?'), the media currencies will need to get by on less data as securing it becomes constrained - so expect what was issued by Rajar this week to be the ‘bedrock’ for further quarters as the UK struggles ahead with its hands tied.
The second, much bigger issue, is dealing with the ad market slump - and sadly, like other media channels receiving a lot more attention during lockdown, radio is not immune.
Warc has forecast a -21% annual change in UK adspend for radio this year, which puts it broadly in-line with other mediums (while the entire UK market is set to drop almost -17% overall).
The deterioration of advertising trade is expected to be focused primarily in the second and third quarters of this year, though the aftershocks are expected to last into the fourth and early 2021.
“As with the current advertising sector de facto, the industry-wide advertising slump is hurting radio media owners,” Martin Vinter, managing director - media, Ebiquity, tells Mediatel News.
However, Vinter says as we move towards a much needed inflationary market again, it is key that advertisers remain “budget-agile” and keep a keen eye on opportunities in radio.
“As the situation unfolds - and we slowly edge towards pre-COVID-19 market conditions - taking advantage of the strong radio value proposition is an attractive one to advertisers big and small.”
Given there’s plenty of evidence that radio elicits a strong emotional response in listeners, having it keep us such good company during lockdown means it is well placed to stay front of mind for advertisers.
Indeed, as Bauer Media’s Paul Keenan said during our Future of Audio event last month, radio can even play a role in accelerating the UK’s exit from the economic slump wrought by this crisis.
“Advertising is both a barometer and a driver of the economy – it encourages consumption and supports businesses large and small, along with the livelihoods of the many people who work in them,” he said.
“Our industry will therefore play an important role in the economic revival – and for all of us working in radio, we should be more sure than ever that we are providing an important service not just to listeners, but to our customers who are the backbone of the economy.”
The Future of Media Trading
We've now drawn to a close the third of our special lockdown events, the Future of Media Trading, which culminated with a live stream on May 18.
If you missed the show or a particular session, you can now watch every session on-demand, free and without registering.
In total, there's more than 8 hours of content and a superbly diverse range of views from all ends of the market – from the advertisers to the adtech vendors, the agency bosses to the supply chain auditors, or the publishers to the trading heads.
Much of our editorial in support of the event, which was the talking point of many of the conversations, is included below – with our highlight Danny Donovan's views on how to evolve media buying. But we will have further coverage next week given the range and importance of the subject matter.
One observation to make here, however, is the industry-wide head scratching taking place since ISBA and PwC issued its report into programmatic supply chains.
Naturally, this dominated many of the conversations – and you can hear from all areas of the market in the stream, including the adtech players – but beyond the frustration of seeing further evidence of supply chain opacity, is the concern as to why some of the biggest brands in the UK are advertising on so many websites.
One brand's ads appeared on over 150,000 sites, including a Nepalese calendar site.
As the Guardian's Nick Hewat told us: "We're expensive, but of great quality. My competitive set should not include a Nepalese calendar."