Digital isn’t exactly known for being a stable, unchanging environment. It seems like almost every day, some kind of new gadget, merger, or platform is launched. All the while, digital advertising is growing faster than TV and radio combined (eMarketer Q4 2017). With all that change, it’s good to ask where public media digital sales is going. Here are the major trends to be aware of.
Audiences and usage continue to grow.
The good news is that digital is thriving and our audiences absolutely want to engage with us there. While most digital channels are experiencing solid growth, a few seem to be particular important for public media. For example, monthly online radio listening, or streaming, now reaches 61% of the U.S. audience, with younger audiences scoring significantly higher (Infinite Dial 2017). Mobile is also growing rapidly and accounts for a surprisingly high percentage of digital audio listening. On top of that, podcast listening continues to grow rapidly. While only 24% of the U.S. market listened to podcasts monthly (Infinite Dial 2018), it’s an area where public media seems to perform particularly well. Of Podtrac’s top five podcast publishers for January of 2018, four have public media focuses.
Revenue is growing too.
With those changes in media consumption, it makes sense to ask how digital revenue spending is being impacted. Fortunately, 85% of radio advertisers are buying digital (Radio Advertising Bureau and Borrell Associates 2017) and, on average, digital makes up about 7.5% of all station revenue (includes private sector). For the digital market as a whole, AdAge estimated year-over-year digital revenue for Q3 increased at the impressive rate of 20% and growth is expected for at least the next four years.
Reason to be optimistic, but aware.
Unfortunately, although digital revenue is growing steadily, its not entirely clear sailing for public media. Programmatic ad-buying is a strong competitor for public media and it’s becoming increasingly common in audio advertising. Even with this trend, many public media stations are having solid digital growth due to solid audience and engaging, uncluttered, and brand-safe environments.