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Five Predictions About Digital Advertising (and a Key Recommendation for Public Radio)

PMDMC, Corporate Support, digital revenue, digital marketing

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At PMDMC 2017, Corey Elliott from Borrell Associates discussed the changing impact and growth of local digital advertising. He shared the following five predictions based on Borrell Associates survey data:

1. Advertisers will cut "weaker" media to fund digital.

  • 63% are increasing their digital spend.
  • 75% of “increasers” will be negatively impacting their non-digital budgets to do so, with print media taking the biggest hit.
  • These advertisers taught themselves that digital “works.”

2. Advertisers will spend a lot of that money on Facebook.

Small local businesses love Facebook as it “has the power to keep your ad or post going for much longer, which boosts your visual exposure.” (Note: the Borrell survey was fielded before recent news about Facebook and the 2016 election; it is unclear if this will have an impact on views going forward).


3. Advertisers will begin to get marketing advice from reps selling digital services.

Small businesses need help with digital services: website design, mobile optimization, etc. They see this as necessary to truly leverage the benefits of digital advertising. The spend for digital and online marketing services is larger than online advertising.


4. Advertisers will partner with a media company whose sales reps listen and can prove ROI.

Small businesses are looking for measurable results online to help differentiate their business in this increasingly cluttered space. The good news is that traditional media drives digital goals and there is a different mix of media required (social, print, radio, email, etc. ) to maintain current business vs acquiring new business.


5. Local businesses turn from advertisers to influencers.

For small local businesses, the best source of leads are referrals from other customers. These influencers - personal recommendations, word-of-mouth etc. - have a much larger impact on their business than does any paid advertising.

That all said, says Corey, “There’s a storm a-brewin’...” Small-business owners/local advertisers that participated in Borrell's data collection about digital advertising had this to say:

"The data showing digital is not as effective as promised. Frankly, our TV and radio are doing well for us, but everything you read indicates you must put more on digital and I'm not sure that's correct now"

"Getting social media right. Skeptical about ROI of digital advertising."

Small business are learning, but they don’t know everything. There are rumblings in the distance about the effectiveness of digital. It’s more than advertising, it’s about the entire influencing ecosystem.

Above all, small businesses want help.

And this is good news for public radio!


  1. Public radio’s place is at the front (if we want it).
  2. Public radio has the audience (the influencers).
  3. Public radio has the trust (we’re an influencer too!)
  4. Public radio has the community/social piece.

Borrell’s key recommendation is to learn how to prove ROI; to understand “influencing” and sell it. This is an uncomfortable notion for public radio sales folks. ROI is something we traditionally avoid in our client conversations since we typically can’t deliver on it.

But influencing is another story.  

Use the Borrell data to educate your clients. Help them think about what’s an effective digital marketing strategy for reaching and engaging the influencers who help them maintain current and acquire new business.

Public radio is an effective channel to reach an audience more likely to do business with our sponsors and to spread the word about them because of their association with public radio. Public radio is an important part of a local business's marketing mix, and can be a key driver of that business’s digital marketing goals.

Don’t forget! We also have digital marketing expertise! For some of your larger accounts, maybe it makes sense to enlist the help of your station marketing colleagues. They have a wealth of digital marketing knowledge and are well-positioned to  help you to educate your clients accordingly. Remember, these small businesses value reps whom they perceive as offering digital services.

The Changing Local Underwriting Landscape slides from PMDMC 2017.


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