Why Brands Need Local Audio, Now. 

By Idil Cakim
SVP Research & Insights, Audacy 

Last week, global business leaders met at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. In the midst of discussions on all things economy and current affairs, the direction from one of the world’s highest billing agency conglomerates was … to go local.  “People want to know what’s going on in their area, and brands want to spend money on local news,” said WPP CEO Mark Read as he pointed out how ad spend should support and leverage trust in local media.

People want to know what’s going on in their area, and brands want to spend money on local news.

Mark Read

This is a simple, clear and accurate statement that reveals true opportunity for brands. Yes, inflation rates and gas prices soared. But so did consumer optimism and spending. As the latest Nielsen Consumer Sentiment survey1 shows, 9 out of 10 have resumed normal activities and are supporting their local economies with vigor. As of March, shopping at grocery stores is up +21% and shopping for non-grocery items is a whopping +70% higher than April 2020. The trend is even stronger among podcast and radio listeners. Almost all (97%) are shopping in stores in person. 

Recent foot traffic data from Placer.ai also points to the vibrancy of local economies: Weekly grocery chain activity in April 2022 shows foot traffic at levels matching, if not exceeding, 2019 levels. The takeaway is that consumers are spending on essentials and otherwise. They are not waiting for inflation rates to drop2

Here’s where the rubber meets the road for brands looking to advertise locally: Following the pandemic and the supply-chain crisis, consumers have become highly price sensitive (78%) and may not be completely loyal to their favorite brands. They are economizing by buying in bulk and choosing smart alternatives if an item is not immediately available on the shelf (88%). 

That’s exactly why brands, global or local, need a trusted environment to connect with consumers and share their stories. Audio – across radio, streaming and podcast content – is the most trusted medium that weaves brands into everyday experiences and conversations. When listening to their local hosts, audiences are highly immersed in what they hear. As a result, they are much more likely to follow the advice of these influencers who face the same local challenges and celebrate the same events. The evidence is here: 60% of Audacy listeners indicate they feel much more connected to a brand’s message when they hear their local influencer’s voice. And 72% have made a purchase following the advice of local programming3 .

Consumer spending rose almost +1% in April4. Some are rushing to experiences, products and services they missed since the pre-pandemics. Many are trying anew. Finally, a new season is here. That means new clothes, music events, cook outs with friends and family get-togethers. That means the car with the smart, connected dashboard is at the dealer. No more office meetings in the living room, so let’s move furniture around and paint it! This is the time to connect with customers. And the combination of local radio and podcasts offers advertisers the path to join audiences authentically as they experience new beginnings, wherever they might be.

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1 Custom Nielsen study conducted March 2022 via an online survey, based on a weighted sample of 1000 among P18+ 

2 Grocery Deep Dive May 2022: Growth Opportunities Amidst Rising Prices and Shifting Preferences 

3 Audacy Veritonic Influencer Impact Study, August 2020, n=692, regular radio listeners who tuned into their respective stations during local hosts’ dayparts. 

4  https://www.bea.gov/news/2022/personal-income-and-outlays-april-2022

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