Audio Companies Should Look Forward, says Ad Industry Survey

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The Myers Report Industry Update can be viewed in full on demand HERE. As media companies and brands look towards "renewal and recovery" from the coronavirus pandemic, there are valuable lessons from this current hardship, including embracing diversity of voices, breaking down silos and encouraging training. For audio companies and really anyone in media and marketing, those are valuable insights from veteran media analyst and The Myers Report/ MediaVillage founder Jack Myers, who notes the advertising and marketing industry are in a period of unprecedented hardship.

"We've lost as an industry, $100 billion dollars in the last 10 years. We're below where we were in 2000, at the 1990 level," Myers said as part of a May 27 Myers Report presentation to more than 1,000 industry professionals where he updated advertising forecasting, shared insights on the road ahead and recognized leaders in media sales, marketing and communications.

Across the media industry, audio companies are leaders in innovation. The 2020 Myers Report Leadership Honors recognized audio organizations including Pandora, NPR, Spotify, Cumulus/Westwood One, and SiriusXM as top performers in categories such as marketing, trust/reliability, communicating values, and sales leadership. Pandora stands out as the honor as the top audio company in legacy performance across nine categories, and as one of two top performing sales organization overall among 80 companies included in The Myers Report.

As an emerging platform with strong growth, the audio industry may be better positioned to weather the current condition than other legacy media. As the audience for podcasting and online audio grows, and new devices such as smart speakers make it easier to access content, advertisers have been increasing their investment in audio. However, in this devastating economic downturn, no one is immune and audio companies are bracing for losses.

In just the last month, predictions for the advertising market have gotten bleaker. In revised May 27 estimates, Myers forecast that total U.S. marketing investment will plummet 21.8% compared to 2019 levels, down from his 16.7% estimate in early March. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Myers expected the ad market to increase 6.2%. His revised estimates predict total U.S. ad spending will drop 22.6% year-over-year, with traditional and linear media bearing the brunt of the losses, down 32%, while digital spending falls 12.1%. Pre-coronavirus, the audio industry was poised to make gains this year. Now Myers' expects audio ad spending to drop 30.6% in 2020 compared to 2019 spending.

So, how can audio and other media improve their position? Myers recommends revisiting time-tested strategies for improving performance and increase collaboration and education of brands and agency partners. For instance, the report noted that 62 percent of media professionals have been in the industry for fewer than eight years, and only one-third of Chief Marketing Officers have a background in marketing. Media companies can facilitate training to advance knowledge. To help member companies, MediaVillage is launching a new web-based tool, Meeting Prep, to assist brand managers and media professionals in accessing training and information to improve their meeting performance and media fluency.

Another area for growth is reconsidering all audiences. Myers implored brands and agencies to broaden their media targets, broadening beyond the usual 18 to 49-year-old demographic and embrace older consumers. He calls it a "55+ plus bias" and said, by failing to conform media buying demographics to the actual consumer purchase data, marketers and agencies are demonstrating "inappropriate bias that's inappropriate and outdated," said Myers "For many media companies more than 50 percent of their inventory is being undervalued due to this bias. If the customer is 55 plus the media buy should be 55 plus. It's as simple as that."

Yet another possibility to improve performance, Myers noted, is increased cooperation between departments, or "breaking down organizational silos". Some media agencies have had success in removing the barriers between their departments, including audio, TV and digital. Brands, agencies, and media companies can all benefit from more collaboration and cross-platform work, Myers said. That can also help integrate younger employees, who make up more than 60 percent of many organizations, with more experienced staffers for shared knowledge, the study reported.

From audio companies to brands, in these challenging times, companies would be well-served to implement these ideas. Said Myers: "Now is the time to be investing in media-first solutions so that you can move through this period of turmoil and navigate successfully to a period of growth."

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