April 27, 2023

Reflections on NAB – Let’s talk about ‘building and branding a comprehensive content portfolio’

By Paul Suchman, Chief Marketing Officer, Audacy

I recently joined a panel at the NAB Show in Las Vegas alongside my colleague J.D. Crowley, Audacy’s chief digital officer and president of podcasting and streaming; and Mike McVay, president of McVay Media broadcasting and consulting firm.

From news and sports to music, talk and podcasts, Audacy has built one of the nation’s largest – and most premium – daily content portfolios in the country. And on this panel, aptly titled “Building and Branding a Comprehensive Content Portfolio,” J.D. and I spoke at length about how we are creating and aggregating this content, building deeply bonded relationships with more than 200M listeners each month and how we are monetizing our assets to marketers large and small.   

For us at Audacy, our selling strategy begins by differentiating Audacy as the most diverse, premium content-led, multi-platform, fully ad-supported audio ecosystem. We never look at advertisers as simply Radio clients anymore. Rather, we help them see themselves as multi-platform brands with incredible total Audio opportunities to extend their voice, target with precision and yes, drive sales. It’s incredibly gratifying to see that they’re spending more of their dollars across Audio to reach their consumers at every stage of the buying journey. And as a result, we are seeing more clients and more brands emerging with better performing campaigns, better outcomes for their businesses and perhaps most gratifying to me – more inspired by the possibilities of Audio.

With Mike, we discussed how smart advertising, when well placed within great content alongside respected Audio brands and beloved voices, performs better. We have the proof. For Audacy, it begins with a relentless dedication to producing and curating the best Audio content out there AND serving it to our listeners in formats and channels they want. Sarah Foss, Audacy’s chief technology officer, also at NAB, said it well on stage:

We know consumers love their sports, need their news and local traffic, and can’t live without their favorite jams. The expectation of how those things are going to be given to them on a digital platform changes so fast. We at Audacy, are delivering on the promise of truly interactive Radio… We want to keep them with us for all their Audio needs, because we have the content and we want to give it to them, wherever they are, whenever they want it, in formats that work for them.

Sarah Foss
Chief Technology Officer, Audacy

Nobody believes in our mission more than J.D.. During our panel discussion, he took Sarah’s perspective a step deeper: “Consumers want choice and personalization. They want stories and communities built around their interests and needs. We deeply understand what content our listeners want. And we can  follow the consumer, how and where she is listening with a distribution strategy to create the best listener experience on her terms. And for millions of other people, every day.” 

As we were wrapping our panel, I reflected on how our listeners have come to deeply trust us to help them find their brands, their shows, their talent and their like minded communities. Those are the environments where advertisers want to be. Places where people are deeply immersed, leaning in and absorbing that content. It is within these environments that advertisers can break through, be additive and have impact. Again, we got the proof

Unlike most media, Audio consumption has been on the rise for nearly a decade, and that trajectory shows no signs of slowing. Trust and love. That’s the secret. That’s why people tune in as a daily habit. They love the voices, they love the hosts, and they trust the programming. It’s that desire for real human connection. That’s where we built this Audacy brand – with content and programming created by people, for people. 

Of course, that upswing is being super charged by streaming, podcasting, and more sophisticated distribution strategies. Podcasting in particular is no longer a niche medium. J.D. noted that one in three Americans will listen to at least one podcast every week, seven in 10 listen monthly, and while typical media outlets see dropping engagement at that level, the opposite is happening in podcasting. They’re addictive…in a good way.

That said, good ol’ Radio still rules supreme. In fact, despite a misplaced stereotype, AM Radio reaches over 80 million Americans each month with fresh content that keeps them coming back1. And in times of crisis, there’s no more reliable, up-to-the-minute source of real-time critical information.

Reggie Shah, Audacy’s senior director of research and insights opined on this at NAB saying, “AM is great for spoken word. You look at how important AM Radio is during times of crisis. It’s a lifeline. When we spoke to listeners under 35; nearly half said they won’t consider a car without AM Radio.” If you haven’t heard Reggie speak, give him a listen. There is no more passionate audiophile than my pal, Reggie.

As J.D. noted in our panel, in part our success is not pigeonholing ourselves into one Audio platform or into a linear programming mindset, “If I have great AM/FM content (and I have tons of that), once I put it on a phone, on a smart speaker and in an app, the possibilities are virtually limitless.”

One of my favorite things that J.D. and I discussed with Mike was about Audio’s role across the entire marketing funnel. It’s no longer just a top-of-the-funnel reach medium, rather it’s driving engagement and sales for brands across every category. And, even better, every ad exposure at every point increases that all-important immersion. And yep, we got the proof

So it’s no surprise that, with all the choices out there, we at Audacy are working to keep Audio top of mind. We’ve built and continue to refine a best-in-class multi-platform Audio ecosystem to deliver vibrant content for listeners, valuable opportunities for advertisers, and a home for the industry’s most talented creators. As Timothy Leary said, Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out. But don’t drop out…stay in school people.

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1 Nielsen Audio, National Regional Database, Fall’22, P12+ 4-week cume, Mon-Sun 6a-6a

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