A few months back, Entercom, the 50-year-old brand that in 2017 acquired CBS Radio, and in 2019 added podcasting houses Pineapple Street Studios and Cadence13, became Audacy, Inc. The name fits a company that is forever on a journey forward, keeping pace with the ever-changing demands of consumers and agencies. Even before the brand change, Audacy was looking to reposition itself in the marketplace as not just a massive radio brand, but an audio powerhouse. So, CMO Paul Suchman and Executive Vice President of National Partnerships Jim McCloud cast around for a way to put Audacy's wealth of knowledge about consumer behavior and the audio ecosystem in front of a broader audience of marketers. The result was the Audacy Insights Series, a series of roundtable conversations with industry leaders.
The next of these webinars took place on August 12 at 1 p.m. ET, with Suchman and McCloud talking with WarnerMedia Chief Strategy Officer Josh Walker and Macy's Director of Audio Strategy and Planning, Kristy Carruba. They spoke about the evolving consumer, omni-channel approaches to advertising and the many opportunities for brand integrations and influencer marketing presented by audio. WATCH IT ON-DEMAND ABOVE
"Audio is a unique medium," says Suchman. "You can be doing something else, and audio can be part of that experience, but at the same time it's also very active." Audio therefore slots nicely into the attention economy that has sprung up over the last decade and became a particularly important concept during the pandemic.
Macy's and HBO Max, McCloud says, are both examples of brands that have had to embrace very quick, very big changes in consumer behavior -- HBO Max, with the demand for content from viewers stuck at home and the inability to release movies into theaters; and Macy's, with the demands of consumers who could no longer go into their brick-and-mortar shops.
And though the two brands may not have much in common at a first glance, Suchman says they are both competing for consumers' attention. The attention economy doesn't care so much about medium as, well, the attention they can grab from the consumer.
COVID-19 has accelerated this shift toward thinking about the attention economy. "Professional and personal lines have been blurred," Suchman explains. The word "schedule" took on an amorphous quality during the pandemic, particularly among consumers who used to commute, so the Audacy team began to think of their listeners differently.
"There's this concept we talk about now of personal prime time," McCloud adds. "Their time."
Reaching these listeners in their own personal prime times is the goal. While there are plenty of opportunities in radio, podcasts provide a huge opportunity for marketers looking to connect with deeply engaged audiences. McCloud says Audacy is ready to meet that need. Audacy had leaned into podcasting with the aforementioned podcast studios through which they can distribute ads and create branded content, and their recent acquisition of Podcorn, an influencer marketing firm that connects brands with niche podcast talent.
"Our ability to bring a brand message to life not only through podcasting, but through our entire audio ecosystem is key," McCloud notes. "The power of our platform from a pure scale standpoint really separates us from some of our competitors, or even a standalone podcast."
Scale is important for marketers, but so of course is authenticity. The wrong ad read from a host can leave listeners feeling disconnected. The influencers Audacy provides access to, like Emma Chamberlain with her "Anything Goes" podcast, can lend an authenticity to ad reads (a trusted voice reading an ad for a trusted brand) and even just regular ads.
While Suchman is all-in on the importance of authenticity in the audio space, there are two other words that perk up his ears even more. "Beyond 'authenticity' is 'trust' and 'love,'" Suchman asserts. "Trust" and "love" are two words that, he adds, Audacy listeners bring up over and over again when talking about the content they listen to.
Similar to the trust and love listeners have for Audacy content, Suchman and McCloud believe these industry conversations are engendering similar feelings in the marketplace. "We see a role for ourselves as being champions of the industry," Suchman adds.
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