At the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts today, three companies presented about the future of audio—a visual sales pitch for an aural medium.
National Public Radio and American Public Media’s Marketplace each put their radio and podcast hosts front-and-center, selling reliable news and audience “trust” at a time when the high-stakes realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have subsumed the media ecosystem.
NewFronts newcomer Vibenomics, meanwhile, made the case for what it has trademarked as Audio Out-of-Home marketing: in-store music, messages and commercials that reach people as they shop.
Here’s what happened in audio Thursday:
NPR has its finger on the cultural pulse
After an introduction from John Lansing, president and CEO of NPR, Steve Inskeep and Noel King, who host the company’s flagship drive-time program Morning Edition and the podcast Up First, took the reins to talk about trust. With podcasts and the advent of smart speakers, Inskeep said radio is “a very old medium has worked out very nicely with modern lives.”
In a survey conducted by NPR, 77% of respondents said they trust the nonprofit radio company to deliver reliable information about the pandemic, King said, noting that number was higher than trust of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also touted the work of Code Switch and Rough Translation, two podcasts that have been reporting on the police killing of George Floyd and broader racial justice conversations in America and around the world.
APM goes short, with Amazon’s help
American Public Media leaned on Marketplace, its brand of financial news radio programs and podcasts, in its NewFronts presentation. The company announced Marketplace Minute, a 60-second, three-times-a-weekday flash briefing for smart speakers like Amazon Echo, in partnership with Westwood One.
For its presentation, APM asked brands to “help support” its work, giving stats about reach—14 million weekly listeners on more than 800 stations—but mostly letting the radio, digital and podcast work they do speak for itself in a series of clips.
A newcomer to NewFronts, Vibenomics made a splash—ironically for an audio company—with a visually arresting presentation about its product, which many brands might not know. The company started as a software-as-a-service firm before pivoting to programmatic and direct advertising a year ago, chief strategy officer Paul Brenner told Adweek in a recent interview.
Brenner said Vibenomics reaches 200 million monthly unique shoppers—and their business has not actually suffered from the effects of the pandemic.
“The pandemic actually made our business explode,” Brenner said. “Our retail networks are primarily convenience stores and grocery stores. Our advertising activity is up 10 times what it was before the pandemic.”