With the pandemic lingering on and ad revenues down 20 to 60% depending on market/format/group, its an easy time to worry about the future of our industry. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the vaccine. But, its likely first quarter, which is always tough, will be historically slow for a lot of stations. Most advertisers will need to see somewhat of a return to normalcy before they begin opening up those checkbooks and that won’t happen until April or May when enough of the country has received the vaccine.
However, there are a few good reasons to power through and make it to the other side of this crisis. Covid has impacted everyone, print has been hit just as hard as radio, if not worse. On the digital side, a lot of the mom and pop shops that sell digital advertising on the local level have seen their revenue dry up as well, and many of them don’t have a lot of capital in the coffers to cover a dry spell. TV wasn’t impacted as heavily but they’ve been wading through a transition to digital for years anyway, that not unlike radio, only sped up during the pandemic. So, the thing to remember is at the end of this there will be far less people competing for ad dollars at the local level. The radio groups who are still standing will be well positioned to fight for that money when it returns.
Plus, an economic crisis always rewards companies that innovate and are forward-looking. It’s likely that the stations who go into survival mode, assessing what’s essential, providing a consistent listener experience on-air and adjusting their business model to fit listener’s changing habits, will gain a significant share of traditional dollars and those ever-increasing digital dollars.
I predict that in 2021 and beyond the groups who focus on creating compelling and engaging content, contests and advertising solutions that are tailored to each of their assets will emerge as the new leaders of our industry.
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