If video killed the radio star, then podcasts, smart speakers and new-wave sales techniques are putting the medium back center-stage.

Developments like those – plus in-ear gadgets and in-car systems – mean a new era.

That is according to Ken Lagana, EVP of digital sales and strategy at Entercom, the number-two radio group in the US.

Targeted audio

“Audio is the hottest space in media right now,” says Lagana, in this video interview with Beet.TV.

“Podcasting … has really made people look at the medium in a different way.”

The latest The Infinite Dial report from Edison Research and Triton Digital is due to be published on March 11. According to the research, in March 2020 37% of Americans age 12+ (104 million) listen to podcasts monthly, up from 32% in 2019.

New software and delivery capabilities mean Lagana’s Entercom is now amongst the publishers to offer advertisers dynamically-inserted ads.

“We went from them being baked in (to files) and living in perpetuity, to now being inserted dynamically, which allows for some really unique, really digital-like opportunities,” he says.

“We have the ability to target demographically and psychographically today. The data capabilities in podcasting, and frankly streaming overall, make this medium really, really interesting to advertisers, and in a way that maybe that hasn’t been the case in the past.”

Integrated campaigns

The space is so interesting that Entercom has rebooted its ad sales around cross-platform proposals and campaigns.

“Over the past eight months or so, we’ve structured that entire team so that you now have one (ad sales) team,” he says.

That team now sells streaming audio, podcasts, radio and events all together.

“We have the ability to put together a really integrated proposal,” he says. “Frankly, that’s what clients are looking for today. They really are.”

Entercom to the future

Entercom was founded in 1968 and counts more than 230 radio stations in its portfolio. In 2017, it merged with CBS Radio, giving it use of Radio.com.

That has become its key asset in digital audio distribution, and for making an advertiser offer than can leverage first-party listener data.

Also according to The Infinite Dial:

  • 62% of Americans use voice-operated assistants.
  • 45% of Americans have listened to audio in a car through a cell phone.

Shoppable audio

Next up for Entercom is to harness smart speakers and to support brands’ ambition to sell products.

“One of the things that we are really excited about is the advancement in the smart speaker space and the ability to really tap into interactive advertising, which can really give brands a face and a whole architecture that may have been challenging to do in the past in audio,” Lagana says.

“You now have the ability to interact with a brand via a smart speaker, which didn’t exist over the last couple of years in audio. We’re really excited about that.

“Shoppable content has become a really hot topic for obvious reasons. Everybody’s getting squeezed with this crazy pandemic that we’ve been up against. Being able to move product continues to be really important to advertisers. The ability to layer in shoppable interactive content via smart speaker is something that we’re really excited about as we think about 2021.”

According to The Smart Audio Report from Edison and NPR in April 2020:

  • 24% of American adults now have a smart speaker.
  • 34% of non-owners said they were likely to buy a smart speaker within the next six months.
  • 36% of smart speaker owners said they are using the device more for music and entertainment amid COVID-19, with 35% reporting the same for news and information.

You are watching “Reaching Convergence: Finding Unified Solutions,” a Beet.TV leadership series presented by WideOrbit. For more videos, please visit this page.