What’s Broadcast Media’s Road Ahead for Auto Dollars?

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NEW YORK — From social justice initiatives that led General Motors to look within to best reflect the multicultural America of today to a rebuke of “total market” initiatives that swept across the U.S. advertising and marketing world a decade ago, the COVID-19 pandemic “reset everyone’s expectations,” American Urban Radio Networks CEO Chesley Maddox-Dorsey believes.


The comment was made at the start of a Forecast 2022 session. As the moderator of a roundtable discussion featuring General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl and dentsu Americas Chief Product Officer for Global Media Doug Ray, Maddox-Dorsey seamlessly directed a Forecast 2022 session devoted to a topic that had the capacity crowd seated, silent and listening intently to the conversation.

With Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fueling what Wahl and Ray had to say, Wahl noted that the pandemic – and events tied to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – fueled a “new desire for engagement and connection.”

Wahl continued, “As companies, we saw a new thirst for connecting as a company. Companies had to show up, in a very different way. Meanwhile, “big tentpole events” including the Super Bowl and World Series have “plunged” in terms of their effectiveness, Wahl added.

This led Wahl and her team at GM to review all of its marketing efforts. “At GM we are meeting people on a totally different way, meeting people in all levels of the marketing ecosystem in a more personal way,” she said.

Meanwhile, chip shortages and supply chain issues wreaked havoc with the product Wahl and her team had been tasked to market in a new engaging way. As such, “there will be a crazy, wild year for the next two to three years for automotive,” she said.

Ray took a moment to illustrate the big challenge for Radio, which has traditionally been fueled by automotive advertising. While more category diversity is helping some companies, a reliance on auto dollars punished Audacy Inc. in the third quarter of 2021.
In Ray’s view, radio advertising dollars will grow by 2% in 2022. Here’s the rub: digital is expected to grow by another 11% in 2022 on top of a huge 2021. And, radio’s growth is driven by streaming and podcasting, Ray said.

Thus, Wahl concluded, connecting authentically with the consumer – something lost through total market planning that treated every impression and GRP as “equal” – is more important than ever.

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