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What Do Ad Agencies Need From Radio Right Now?

“There’s so much uncertainty that we want to be able to steward our clients’ dollars in the most effective way while maintaining commitments to our media partners.”

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Everyone that works for Intrepid Marketing Group is busy right now. The full-service marketing and PR firm based in Raleigh, NC works with a diverse group of clients. They are trying to shepherd organizations of all sorts, from ACC athletic programs to quick service restaurant chains, through the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ann-Marie Sales and her partner Mike Dixon run Intrepid. I spent the better part of last week exchanging emails and text messages with the two of them and their Vice President Torrey Winchester. All three will acknowledge that this is a challenging time for their clients, and by proxy for them. But they will all also tell you that working with an agency has helped to ease their clients’ fears.

Intrepid Marketing Group

“Luckily, as a full-service agency, we’re able to consult with them on messaging of both advertising as well as direct customer outreach via email or social and PR,” Sales says. “This is such an unprecedented occasion, but our clients lean on our experience and expertise to finetune those messages. They also rely on us to be proactive in updating messaging as new information comes to light.”

Advertisers are leaning on their agencies and those agencies are leaning on radio for reassurance right now. No one is operating in a “business as usual” environment, and Winchester says that agencies are going to be loyal to radio clusters that understand that and make adjustments.

“Flexibility right now is key,” she says. “There’s so much uncertainty that we want to be able to steward our clients’ dollars in the most effective way while maintaining commitments to our media partners.”

Winchester adds that without many exceptions, the radio stations Intrepid works with have been keen to do their part.

“We’ve seen a great deal of flexibility and a lot of stations stepping up to find ways to support our clients and other local businesses. There’s a real feeling that we’re all in this together and that has come through from our partners as they provide extra added value through new initiatives like on-air announcements of businesses that are still open or by waiving creative change fees or the like.”

For the businesses that utilize the services of Intrepid Marketing Group or any other agency, the learning curve can be a little softer right now. After all, why does a business hire a firm with PR experience if not for guidance through the most uncertain of times? Right now, that guidance includes shaping a business’s messaging.

You’ve seen a lot of media companies featured on BSM lately discussing how important the relationships they have spent years building are proving to be right now. Well, the same is true for marketing and PR agencies. Sales says the relationships she has built with her radio partners are imperative to being able to deliver for her clients.

“We have a really diverse set of industries that we represent so we’re able to manage our relationships with the media with a little more fluidly with some clients’ budgets being restricted while others expand so it provides our clients with a really solid negotiating position.”

So what about the creative side of the relationship? Clients are trusting Intrepid to manage their messaging, but who is Intrepid trusting to make sure they get it right? Mike Dixon says that it’s been all about teamwork.

“This is often a collaboration between us, our clients and the stations, but we do pride ourselves on our ability to be proactive in providing guidance on messaging to be sensitive to current events. We’ve worked through some unique challenges, like recording new spots while maintaining social distancing measures, so stations have offered some good new options for that as well.”

The balance of power has always been tilted towards the agency in relationships with radio stations. A sports station that delivers a successful campaign for a local minor league baseball team can find itself on a department store’s buy when back to school season comes around if the two businesses are working with the same agency.

Keeping clients is the priority of everyone at every station across the country right now. Dixon is appreciative of those efforts. He hasn’t told any stations that Intrepid is paying attention to how its clients are treated right now, because he hasn’t had to.

“In our experiences so far, it’s clear that everyone knows we’re in this together. We always work hard to maintain really great relationships with our media partners and we’ve already seen the fruits of that in their willingness to find creative ways to promote our clients’ and in some cases their changing business models.”

MIKE DIXON | intrepidmg

Advertising partnerships are true partnerships now more than ever before. Businesses need guidance from their agencies, agencies need flexibility from stations, and stations need loyalty from agencies and advertisers. Ann-Marie, Mike, and Torrey can only speak for their clients and their agency, but they are counting on the relationships they have built over the years. They are looking at the stations they have placed ad buys with for help, both in terms of creativity and flexibility.

Everyone at Intrepid is fond of saying that clients and stations “realize we are all in this together” when it comes to doing business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, is the time for stations to make a good impression. It may mean you and your agency partners are “in this together” for the foreseeable future.

BSM Writers

Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC

“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”

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NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade.  A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well.  However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).

NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season.  NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.

NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.  

Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.

Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.

If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.

“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”

Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm. 

“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”

While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.

Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock. 

Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week. 

My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic.  When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV.  Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams.  After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England.  They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.

I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.

I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters. 

By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.

Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.

Global Is Cool': The Growing Appeal of Premier League Soccer in America
Courtesy: Morning Consult

This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.

Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.”  NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 45

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Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.

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BSM Writers

6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio

“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”

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For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.

Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?

A Pot of Gold Articles - Analyzing Metals
Courtesy: iStockphoto

Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?

Well, let’s go Digging for Gold. 

The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.

Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.

If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way?  I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:

  • Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
  • Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
  • Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
  • Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
  • FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $ 
  • Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months

The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details. 

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