May 19, 2020

Ross Yaeger photo

Before the recent pandemic, public media stations had been enjoying years of solid growth in digital advertising. COVID-19 will certainly impact revenue for the near term, but digital is still one of the fastest growing media platforms in the world. That’s not likely to go away. Our audiences continue to listen more and more to our digital audio content. And now that many listeners work from home, they are engaging with our digital content in increasing numbers. 

As we work to establish a “new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be ready to talk about the value of our digital offerings, so we are well-positioned to monetize our increased traffic and audience engagement when digital advertising revenue begins to come back.

Here are three areas to focus on when pitching digital:

Know Your Selling Points

  • Audience: Our digital audience is just as high-quality as broadcast, but tends to be younger, more affluent, more highly educated, more diverse.
  • Cross-platform effectiveness: Campaigns that span multiple media channels bring a higher ROI for clients. Adding display banners to a broadcast campaign increases brands lift.

  • Uncluttered environment: Public media digital properties are far less commercial and uncluttered than other media sites.

  • Halo Effect: Our audience loves public media and rewards our sponsors!

  • Effective ad units
    • Banners are still effective at building brand awareness. 
    • Rich media ads have high engagement. 
    • Newsletters have loyal audiences and high open rates. They offer high ROI for the client.
    • Streaming pre-roll offers ease for the client like broadcast does, plus can sync with banner ads to increase ad effectiveness.
    • Podcast pre- and mid- roll offer higher brand lift and increased ability to influence and drive purchase decisions.

Prepare a Strong Media Plan

Always include a default of 15-20% digital. This has a three-way benefit: higher ROI for clients, better monetization of station inventory and a more successful AE experience.

Include a minimum of two digital ad products.

Don’t just offer your best inventory. Introduce clients to new products as well.

Add more products when the share of voice exceeds 20%.

Clients want exciting ad products and low CPM. So include at least one high-impact ad (i.e. rich media ad or podcast) and one low-cost product (i.e. ROS banner) to keep average CPMs down.

Be Ready for Key Discussion Points

Review ads with clients. Show then live examples or mock-ups on marketing materials. Clients will be more receptive when they can see what you are talking about. If you have house ads running, don’t apologize for them, explain strategically why they are running right now – get ahead of the question.

Be ready to explain why our CPMs are higher (due to the selling points mentioned above).

Use of Programmatic. Many clients use this, but our product, sold directly, holds its own. Programmatic tends to bring with it concerns about fraud, high clutter, low quality ad environment and brand safety.

Anticipate questions about podcast downloads vs. listenership. How can you prove your podcasts (and ad units) are actually listened to? There’s good data here from Edison Research (Podcast Consumer 2019): 58% listeners say they listen to 76-100% of the podcasts they download.

Practice, practice, practice! Role-play with your team and be sure you are comfortable talking in digital terms and confident when articulating your value proposition in this space. Anticipate objections and practice responding to them.

Ross Yaeger photo