Mesha Williams, MediaCom, reflects on Radio Audio Week


This article originally appeared in Mediatel in May 2019. The full article can be read here

As Radio Audio Week 2019 gets underway, MediaCom’s Mesha Williams explains why it’s important for agencies to take stock of what radio and audio has achieved in recent times, and looks at what the future holds.

Over the past few years we have witnessed an audio revolution. We are continuing to see a record number of people tuning into radio, a growth in voice-activated devices in the home, and the explosion and coming of age of podcasts. The strength of the radio medium is evident as listening continues to remain really healthy despite potential competition in the shape of the growth of digital audio/podcast audiences.

That’s partly because much has been done by the radio groups to retain and grow numbers of new listeners. In terms of stations, we’ve seen investment in presenters and programming, and into the networking of breakfast shows, and we’ve watched the emergence of DAX, the programmatic audio platform that provides a single buying point for radio and other digital audio platforms.

Digital audio has also enabled us to go further with our targeting. We now have the ability to reach a more precisely defined audience, and the emergence of dynamic audio provides the opportunity to create personalised advertising creative.

In addition to this, Global’s latest outdoor advertising industry acquisitions mean that the ability to create a holistic and seamless media campaign across various channels might be closer than we think.

This means that working in audio is truly an exciting time. But we mustn’t become complacent. Podcast consumption is still relatively low when compared to other countries such as the US, where podcasts are now considered to be part of the mainstream.

Also, the level of reporting we’re able to access around podcast buys remains limited. Apple is still the leading podcast host, with a 60-65 per cent share of listening on its platform, and remains reluctant to share audience analytics with advertisers, who are demanding better targeting and want to know who is listening and when.

We haven’t yet figured out how to jump this hurdle, or the best ways to capitalise on the rise of voice-activated devices. Growing numbers of people have them in their homes, using their voice assistants for day-to-day activities such as ordering products and listening to radio, but brands are still some distance from finding the most effective routes for using them to target people with advertising.

But it’s clear that the audio landscape is changing, that a shift is coming, which explains why Radio Audio Week and Radiocentre’s Tuning In event are much-needed, cross-industry, initiatives that provide us with the opportunity to learn, share and collaborate with each other.

I’m especially looking forward to listening to the industry’s leading experts, not only the media owners but also agencies and audio specialists, give their perspective on where things are going, the challenges we are facing, and how technological advancement will be the key to connecting the dots on a rapidly changing picture.

Mesha Williams is AV Associate Director at MediaCom

Radio Audio Week is a cross-industry initiative celebrating the best of UK radio and audio across six jam-packed days of conferences, seminars, and networking events. 

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