PERSPECTIVES: Hitting the sweet spot

By Grant Blackley, CEO, Southern Cross Austereo | 11 December 2019

This first appeared in the AdNews 2019 Annual edition. Subscribe here for your copy.

The audio sector is in the sweet spot in 2020. A key trend identified for the future of media is that audio is the new media. While radio continues to prove its resilience and grow audiences, opportunities across the audio spectrum will continue to expand and accelerate — capturing larger audiences and advertiser revenue. 

The buzzword for 2020 will be “personalisation” as consumers seek personalised experiences and marketers seek a piece of the action. Audiences are increasingly looking for experiences that are more intentional, enjoyable, long-lasting and of a higher quality. This is where audio, in all its forms, delivers.

According to PwC’s latest Entertainment & Media Outlook: “Unlike many other sectors where the traditional broadcast mediums have suffered cannibalisation at the hands of new digital distribution methods, the terrestrial radio industry has shown that a strong traditional, and growing digital revenue stream can coexist.

“The audio sector is being bolstered by two factors: increased supply due to the ability to access streamed audio content via hardware technology like smart speakers and voice assistants in the home, and the data and analytics that streaming services offer advertisers.”

It should add that we are bringing non-traditional listeners into the audio ecosystem and providing advertisers with brand-safe, intimate listener experiences combined with addressable advertising.

Audio entertainment listening is up by seven minutes year-on-year. Radio remains a growth sector, accounting for 61.3% of daily listening, the GfK Australian Share of Audio study says. But the growth rate of streaming and podcasting has jumped.

Total streaming ad revenue including podcasting is predicted to reach $773 million by 2023 and $987 million on terrestrial radio, PwC says.

I predict that growth next year will come from:

  • DAB+ stations that provide incremental and unduplicated listening
  • Podcasting, which now has a 7.3% share of listening in Australia, almost double that of last year and overtaking owned music
  • Smart speakers — by 2021, around two billion people worldwide will be using a voice assistant and 70% say they are listening to more audio than they did before they owned a speaker
  • FM radio and its ability to provide hyper-localism that drives audience engagement on a mass scale
  • Addressable advertising on audio platforms that allows dynamic insertion of live and personalised ads.

As the largest audio provider in the Southern Hemisphere, SCA has committed $5 million in the next 12 months to develop new audio products — via new and existing platforms — ensuring we remain at the forefront of innovation moving forward.

Our challenge is education and it’s two-fold: educating audiences about new forms of audio such as DAB+ and podcasting, and bringing more listeners on board. The radio industry’s DAB+ ad campaign will help achieve this. The other is education of advertisers who are grappling with the search for growth, the data deluge and the advent of voice. Audio ticks a lot of boxes, it is brand safe, it provides a rich, mass linear reach and a personalised premium on-demand consumer experience culminating in further incremental reach. 

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