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Radio sales teams may be focused on roping a larger share of back to school ad budgets or even looking ahead to the crucial fourth-quarter holiday season. But media planners are already drawing up their budgets for next year. And with recent efforts to better quantify the impact of radio advertising, industry leaders are hopeful that these data-driven planners and strategists will have more reasons to include AM/FM radio in their 2020 budgets.

“The industry has really stepped up to invest and adopt new tools that enable us to prove positive business outcomes for our advertisers,” says Christine Travaglini, President of rep firm Katz Radio Group. “We have been using Katz Analytics – our attribution tools — to build powerful case studies and have measurable evidence that radio delivers results. I believe it is resonating and will have a bigger impact on plans for 2020.”

If there’s one thing that has unified the radio industry during the past year it has been a sense of urgency about harnessing data to drive more ad dollars to radio. All of the big companies now have analytics programs designed to better demonstrate their value to clients. In addition, Nielsen Media Impact, the cross-platform planning tool long used by advertisers and agencies to map out their marketing plans, now has radio data in the mix. For the first time, subscribing advertisers can see the actual audience delivery of their previously aired TV campaigns and how adding radio to the media mix would have improved their reach. Broadcasters using the tool say the data it produces is “powerful” and is opening eyes high up the media planning food chain.

“Nielsen Media Impact will be a great tool for the advertising and radio industries. It is the first cross-platform planning system that truly integrates reach, resonance and reaction data to help the advertising community plan and optimize media investments and provide solutions to the advertiser,” says Kevin Garrity, CEO of rep firm Gen Media Partners. “It will open more doors to discuss the value and power of radio and how radio continues to drive and deliver results for advertisers.”

Last month iHeartMedia threw its weight behind NMI and Continuous Diary Measurement (CDM) in Nielsen’s four-book radio markets, boosting Nielsen’s momentum for the planning tool, which is also being used by Univision, Entercom, Westwood One and Sun Broadcast Group. “Marketing mix models need fresh data to get a full understanding of how radio drives sales results, and Continuous Diary Measurement enables better attribution with more current data in the larger diary markets,” said Greg Ashlock, President, iHeartMedia Markets Group. “We also look forward to using Nielsen Media Impact to show clients how iHeartMedia substantially improves advertising results in optimized cross media campaigns.”

Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, believes NMI’s impact could be a game changer. “No longer does radio have to sit on the sidelines. This not only brings radio into the game but it puts radio on equal footing,” Farber says. “It’s so important and because of it, anecdotally we’re seeing increased interest in radio from advertisers of all sizes.”

But Farber’s optimism isn’t only confined to what Nielsen is doing with NMI and its local equivalent, Local Media Impact. The industrywide initiative to use data and analytics to show attribution to clients is resonating with advertisers, she says. “Because of the tools that are now available, it places our industry in a competitive position that we haven’t had before,” Farber notes. “Our impact can now be measured and advertisers are recognizing that. And the more that we can share these tools, the more positive results we’re going to see.”

Using these tools in the summer months to impact plans for next year with big advertisers is crucial, Travaglini adds. “Having new data and insights is a great VBR [valid business reason] for securing meetings with planning and strategy teams to make sure radio is not only on the plan, but also taking a bigger share of the budgets.”