Audio 2020 predictions: Automated radio buying and more money for podcasts

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 18 December 2019

This year radio experienced sluggish advertising revenue and increased competition from podcast makers, but leaders in the field remain confident of a positive 2020.

In line with trends across the wider media landscape, ad spend on the medium dragged and in response to the tough market, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and Nova both reportedly made a round of redundancies.

To firm up advertising spend in regional markets, the industry united for Boomtown, as well as a new reach and frequency tool.

In further consolidation in the local media market, Nine took took full control of Macquarie Media, while ARN closed its esport venture to focus on audio.

The explosion of podcasting continued in 2019, meaning radio has more competitors in the likes of streaming platforms, such as Acast, and news publishers, such as News Corp Austereo.

To find out what to expect in 2020, AdNews reached out to leaders in the audio space for their thoughts.

Brian Gallagher, Southern Cross Austereo chief sales officer
2020 has audio redefining listening and growing audiences across its expanding platforms. Audio on-demand via podcasting and catch-up radio experiences exponential growth. The humble radio reaches more people than ever via FM, DAB and connected devices.
Sonic branding has never been more important to brands, 2020 will be the year where more brands develop specific audio strategies. The biggest thing that will emerge in 2020 is the automation of radio buying across metro and regional markets. Media buyers and clients will love the ease of access and accuracy they derive from this industry driven development.

Grant Tothill, Southern Cross Austereo head of podcasting – PodcastOne Australia
2020 will be a year where we see podcasting continue to grow with corporate Australia using it as a new form of communication. Marketers will continue to move to trusted environments to position their brands in an authentic and natural way by creators that people trust.
We will see podcast discovery and listenership grow more quickly in the next year than we have in the past two years and we will also see an emergence of new original general entertainment podcasts, together with a greater focus on information and education based podcasts.
Podcasting will become the new medium for social media influencers to connect with their tribe, and premium quality will be what people will choose, as listeners become more particular about how they spend their time with so much choice

Peter Charlton, Nova Entertainment chief commercial officer
2019 really has been the year of the spoken word.
Even in a retracting market, metro radio fared better than most, achieving growth in the first half of the year and continued stability in H2 – an enviable position in the current climate.
This is clearly a halo effect from the ‘audio renaissance’ predicted this time last year, driven in large by the explosion in popularity and prevalence of podcasting and other digital audio content. The ‘ear bud generation’ is obviously connecting deeply to talent-led, audio storytelling across all platforms, including traditional, however investment in digital has admittedly been slower to follow suit.
If history has taught us anything though, it’s never (too) far behind the audience, even in a tougher market. I think this will course-correct in 2020, as opportunities for advertisers proliferate – on demand, live, paid (someone will try a pay wall) and catch-up – with greater automation and deeper insight introduced to the advertising transaction.
The year will likely start slowly for everybody, but audio will continue to buck the trend and grow its share of advertising dollars.

Peter Charlton

Peter Charlton

Pete Whitehead, ARN chief commercial officer
Audio will continue on its upwards trajectory and radio will be leading the charge. Australians’ thirst for live and local content will only increase and the network talent will continue to work harder and smarter to tap into their hearts and minds. The emerging audio platforms of voice, podcasts and streaming as well as the reach extension of DAB+ will provide a multitude of ways for the compelling content to be consumed by more people.

Geraint Davies, iHeartRadio Australia and Asia chief operating officer
Audio will continue to grow its popularity in 2020. It will become even easier for consumers to seamlessly access the audio they love, be that live radio, podcasts or music, driven primarily by the exponential growth in smart speaker ownership and the increasing integration of ‘digital assistants’ into many more devices and services. 

Corey Layton, ARN commercial product and audio partnerships director
Rather than talking about radio, streaming and podcasts in isolation, the smart publishers will guide brands to navigate each complementary platform, in line with how people are consuming it. Listeners are stacking their audio, using different formats to fulfill their varying needs across the day. Radio to connect with their world through live and local content, streaming to escape their world by matching their mood and podcasts to explore their world through education and entertainment content. To shift the dial with agencies, audio publishers must help brands understand the growing medium through standardise metrics, education on buying, and adapting creative accordingly.

Joan Warner, Commercial Radio Australia CEO
Live radio will remain the most consumed audio in 2020 and a key trend will be discovery. There has been an explosion of audio content in recent times, including new DAB+ stations, thousands of catch-up radio and original content podcasts and audio created specifically for smart speakers, apps and digital platforms. The year ahead will see a greater focus on integrating and promoting this content to listeners to increase awareness and discovery. Audio has always been the best medium to enjoy while multi-tasking and technology is making it easier to access audio everywhere you go. More innovation will bring new opportunities for advertisers, and there will be further developments in automated trading of radio. We are also (cautiously) optimistic about a reduction in media regulation.

Henrik Isaksson, Acast Australia and New Zealand managing director
I believe podcast advertising will play a significantly larger and more strategic role in brands' audio strategy. With this, podcast ad expenditure will double compared to 2019.
Growth will be driven by a changing ad market, coupled with more sophisticated podcast data and reporting metrics for brands. We'll also see Aussie indie podcasters become more mainstream, increasing audience reach and targeting opportunities.

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