Media agencies see the acquisition of Grant Broadcasters by HT&E’s ARN as a positive, with better reach to regional markets, now enjoying a pandemic accelerated renaissance.
The sale is worth $307.5 million, mostly cash, but with the privately-owned Grant Broadcasters, founded in 1942, ending up with an 11% holding in HT&E. Alison Cameron, the current CEO, Grant Broadcasters), joins the HT&E board of directors.
Transaction will see the creation of a national radio broadcast network with 58 stations, 46 DAB+ stations, across 33 markets -- a 8 million broadcast and digital audience.
Insiders say the new ARN will give advertisers more scale, a better national advertising solution, reaching more than a third of Australian audio consumers in one transaction.
And both ARN and Grant have given a commitment to a continuing flow of "live and local content" important in keeping the attention of local audiences.
ARN says the average advertiser spend in regional radio has grown 30% over the last five years. The deal creates opportunity to leverage existing ARN advertiser relationships across regional network, with increased adoption of digital audio.
Grant's current digital stations can be moved to ARN's iHeartRadio platform to increase scale and digital revenue growth with national advertisers.
Cleo Lam, activation director, Spark Foundry: “One of the long-term trends of COVID-19 has been the increase in migration between capital cities and regional areas across Australia, coupled with higher discretionary income amongst the regional population.
“We’ve seen more emphasis on regional markets when it comes to advertising, and even greater emphasis on clients wanting a holistic national approach to their campaigns.
“We’ve seen early glimpses of this trend across TV networks – whether it is Seven’s pending acquisition of Prime Media Group, or Nine and WIN’s sales team working in a more collaborative manner, all signs point towards greater alignment between metro and regional representation in the next few years.
“HT&E’s acquisition of Grant Broadcasters is very exciting. It’ll give the combined network greater reach potential and clients will benefit from the ability to implement campaign ideas and integrations holistically on a greater scale, leveraging the strength of radio to reach more potential customers in a meaningful manner.
“ARN’s existing suite of research and technology offerings will enrich Grant’s existing product and service, and of course, having greater access to regional data will in turn enhance ARN’s audience offering. The two businesses will complement each other, which should facilitate accelerated growth across their respective digital audio products too.
“While leveraging metro and regional investment volume could potentially help incentivise client position in the long-run, the real value of this acquisition comes in the form of having joint expertise between the two companies coming under a single roof – this will help agencies and advertisers formulate the right approach on both a national level, and local level to maximise effectiveness.”
Matt Lawton, managing director, Five by Five Global: “This looks like a good news story for advertisers who are wanting local relevance more than ever before.
“If we can buy scale more easily and integrate that into plans more efficiently then it's a win/win providing the content is able to be made relevant in region.
“It certainly feels like there's been a re-distribution of the population into more regional areas of Australia as a result of the pandemic, so the acquisition makes sense.
“It aligns with a bit of a resurgence in radio and renewed appreciation for audio generally. We often propose radio as a quick way of testing messaging and tone for a larger video campaign.”
Ashwin Govender, client solutions director, Half Dome: “Regional Australia is booming with more Australians opting for a life away from the major cities than ever before.
"It is the right time commercially and culturally for a giant in the audio industry to offer high reaching platforms in a truly national way.
"The acquisition of Grant Broadcasters will ensure growth for ARN and allow for healthy competition with SCA in key regional markets.”
Chris Parker, managing director, Awaken: “ARN's acquisition is strategic, well thought-out, and exciting for the additional regional reach that it brings. A big part of being in a local regional community is tuning in to the local station to find out when the markets are on and the local news of the day.
"And while digital audio and syndication can be great for reach, it generally does not deliver the hyper local content that people search for and can be less engaging. Continuing with local content development across 33 stations will cement a 90% audience reach and make it a very competitive and compelling offering comparable to other networks.
“What is very exciting is the significant shareholding Grant Broadcasters have in the deal with Alison joining the board and (COO) Rick (Lenarcic) joining the leadership team. This demonstrates the belief in local content and a vision that I assume will be rolled out in the months and years ahead.
“We are excited to see where this leads and hopefully see stronger integrations, live reads, syndications and dynamic ads rolled out across all 58 stations.”
Stephen Leeds, CEO, The Media Store: “Regional markets have provided many talent over the years with their start in the industry and this merger will provide a natural progression and career path for on-air and production talent, and that’s a good thing. It will also allow ARN to retain key personnel, nurture and develop them within the network.
“From an agency point of view, there will no doubt be efficiencies in dealing with one integrated team who can sell a national footprint.
"I think most publishers have been looking at Nine Entertainment as a model of the future in providing mass reach options and keeping advertisers within the ecosystem, and no doubt ARN will play to this.
"ARN have worked hard at refining their service levels and have been easy to deal with, and if they get the processes and systems right, one would assume more opportunities for the greater business.
“It will be interesting to see how addressability plays out, with iHeart now having a national platform to promote itself and deliver more registered users and ultimately more personalised communications.”
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