The Cookie Apocalypse: A Tasty Opportunity for Public Media

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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What is the “Cookie Apocalypse?” Sounds like a chocolate chip-ageddon, which really wouldn’t be all that bad if you like chocolate chip cookies. But, the “Cookie Apocalypse” is the current name for the disappearance of tracking cookies in digital ads. Browser cookies identify a computer and its user(s) and help advertisers serve up more relevant ads. But have you noticed that websites now ask your permission to “track you across apps”?

When you say “No, don’t track,” then the tracking cookie can’t be used and those programmatic digital ads that used to follow you around everywhere are no longer viable. This is a new IAB best practice that advertisers are adopting.

“Yay!” many say, and rightly so.

The IAB published in their Post-Cookie Whitepaper that "the proliferation of cookies has increased anxiety over online privacy. Data collection is fragmented over many websites, devices, browsers, apps, etc. making it exceedingly difficult for consumers to understand who may be doing what with their data and to apply privacy controls centrally and consistently, while ensuring these choices persist over time. For third parties, the reliance on cookies has resulted in a battle between a rapidly degrading economic model, and the costly, persistent, and high-volume deployment of cookies.”  

What does this mean for public media digital sponsorship?

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Maximize Streaming Audio Sponsorship Now More Than Ever

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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If you have been thinking about adding streaming audio pre-rolls to your mix of digital sponsorship offerings, now is the time to jump in and  jump in all the way.  If you have just been offering a “baked in” single or dual streaming audio sponsorship and are only selling it to one or two sponsors,  it’s time to change to dynamic pre-roll insertion and sell to multiple sponsors.  

Stations can more than make up the monthly service cost for dynamically inserted streaming audio pre-rolls through added sponsorship sales and increased digital revenue.  Borrell Associates recently released “The 2021 Mindset of Streaming Audio Advertisers,” including their survey of 2,262 local advertisers and agencies conducted in Q2 and Q3 2020.  The results showed that almost half of local agencies were buying streaming audio, while only 11% of local advertisers were doing the same. This may indicate that streaming audio is currently bought by more sophisticated marketers, but is starting to gain traction on direct buys, too.  With smart speakers now in over 87.7 million U.S. households (up over 32% year over year) and the ubiquitous use of smart phones, it just makes sense to capture the most sponsorship revenue you can with streaming audio.

The Borrell Associates study mentioned above goes on to show that half of streaming audio sponsorship buyers are in arts & entertainment, retail, civic organizations, and health care.  Most of these are strong public media sponsorship categories. And indicators suggest that streaming audio buyers have bigger budgets.

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A Tale of Corporate Support Sponsorship in FY20

Corporate Support, COVID-19, digital sponsorship

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Once upon a time, early in FY20, many public radio stations were enjoying their best corporate revenue year ever. They needed more inventory to sell to keep up with demand, and to grow and diversify their corporate revenue and corresponding client and prospect lists. 

Then, along came impeachment. 

Midway through FY20, the impeachment hearings were upon us, and with many sponsorship messages preempted for live coverage, stations struggled to make good on their existing and prospective sales. They needed more digital and off-air inventory to sell!

Suddenly, everything changed. 

Then, as the last quarter of FY20 approached, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted corporate support operations as never before. In an instant we were back to having more inventory to sell than we knew what to do with. We were forced to think creatively about tactics to keep sponsors engaged and on-the-air as listening shifted and the economy tanked, all the while thinking about new ways to support the small local businesses suffering the most in our respective communities. Stations couldn’t imagine they needed new inventory to sell!

But they did.

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Understanding the Digital Ad Sponsorship Capabilities of Grove CMS

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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Digital ad revenue is more important now than ever before, given the shift to listening on digital platforms. NPR’s new Grove Content Management System (CMS) will replace Core Publisher for station websites and is intended to make website content management easier, more flexible, and more dynamic. The new CMS is being beta-tested by a handful of stations now.

Grove and Digital Sponsorship Ads

Grove CMS was designed to have parity with Core Publisher to make migration easy. The digital ads that were available in Core Publisher are also available in Grove’s CMS. Here are the digital ads that are “baked in” to Grove CMS which were, for the record, also available in Core Publisher:

  • 728 x 90 Banner ad (at the top) (Can be replaced with a 970x50 banner ad) (both of these can support Rich media ads that include In Banner Video or push downs
  • 300 x 250 ads (3 down the right rail)
  • 320 x 50 small smartphone banner (disappears when user scrolls)

If you are - or are considering - migrating to Grove, you may have questions about the more detailed capabilities of the new system. Here are answers to such questions, based on those raised during our recent PMDMC Summer Series session “Leveraging Grove for Sponsorship.”

  1. Does the Grove audio player still support pre-roll banners? 

Yes, Grove supports pre-roll ads. We will likely need to work directly with your site during set up to make sure they are working properly.

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How Grove CMS Features Address the Growing Importance of Digital Sponsorship

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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Grove CMS expertise provided by Tutuwa Ahwoi, Director, Spot Sales Operations, National Public Media.

It’s more important than ever for stations to leverage increasing website and streaming impressions to capture as much digital sponsorship revenue as possible. Listening behaviors are changing and station sponsorship revenue depends on additional digital revenue. Jacobs Media recently reported that “With more Americans working remotely and the number of functioning AM/FM receivers in households slowly shrinking, digital delivery of broadcast content has never been more important.” 

Data Behind the Growth of Digital

The IAB recently released the COVID Impact on Consumer Media Usage Report demonstrating the importance of digital. The report showed that consumers spent 14% more time online during the time period of March-April 2020 versus the same time period in 2019. In fact, by March 31 of this year a whopping 87% of consumers reported increased media consumption compared to pre-pandemic; 23% are listening to more radio and 13% are podcasting more. A majority of users in each medium - television, radio, and podcasting - report they’ll increase consuming more on different formats. Smart-speaker growth was up 10% in 2019; mobile phone use is also way up and will continue to be so with many working from home. It goes without saying that having a 320 x 50 and/or 300 x 250 mobile digital ad is more important now than ever.

A handful of stations have been beta-testing NPR’s new Grove Content Management System (CMS) over the last six months. Grove CMS will replace Core Publisher for station websites and is designed to make website content management easier to manage, more flexible, and dynamic. If you are - or are considering - migrating to Grove, here are the ways in which the new system supports the growing importance of digital sponsorship.

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Best Practices for Pitching Digital Sales

Corporate Support, digital sponsorship

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Before the recent pandemic, public media stations had been enjoying years of solid growth in digital advertising. COVID-19 will certainly impact revenue for the near term, but digital is still one of the fastest growing media platforms in the world. That’s not likely to go away. Our audiences continue to listen more and more to our digital audio content. And now that many listeners work from home, they are engaging with our digital content in increasing numbers. 

As we work to establish a “new normal” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to be ready to talk about the value of our digital offerings, so we are well-positioned to monetize our increased traffic and audience engagement when digital advertising revenue begins to come back.

Here are three areas to focus on when pitching digital:

Know Your Selling Points

  • Audience: Our digital audience is just as high-quality as broadcast, but tends to be younger, more affluent, more highly educated, more diverse.
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