SRDS—Standard Rate & Data Service—has served the media-buying world for 123 years, compiling a comprehensive set of facts about media brands across all channels, including digital, print, local, TV and radio, and more.
The service provides not just demographics about audience size and HHI, the age groups a media brand reaches, and frequency, but also how long media brands have been around, contact info for their top executives and lots of other essential data.
In its print form, the monthly directories for decades were essential tools in agencies, newsrooms and related businesses. Now, its digital services and other solutions serve a similar purpose for planning media campaigns.
Because of these characteristics, SRDS is in a remarkably unique position to observe media trends and spot both opportunities and innovations just as they’re occurring. SRDS is also a vital economic bellwether because it measures how media companies are feeling about marketing in any given time period.
So we at Fox Tales thought that with 2023 just around the corner, it would be a good time to discuss all this with their top executives. We caught up with Heather Petaccio, President of SRDS and its parent, AdWanted Group USA, and SRDS Publishing Sales Director Michael Forgash to get their take on the pulse of the business. In this Q&A, Petaccio and Forgash collaborated on the responses. (Disclosure: Forgash began his career at Fox Associates.)
Fox Tales: How are your customers seeing 2023 shaping up for media companies?
Petaccio and Forgash: The year’s perspective is dependent on the market. Most associations, B2B and consumer publishers are bullish about their overall advertising revenue, particularly when they factor in all their digital offerings and additional revenue streams.
Many publishers are optimistic, and remain this way, despite the inflation and global issues in Ukraine and Korea. This could be attributed to the low unemployment rate, which offsets a number of these issues. But the competition is greater, with markets getting smaller and more saturated. Additionally, with the impact of the COVID shutdowns, businesses are aware now more than ever that they must build back up and stay the course to succeed in 2023. This includes boosting their marketing efforts.
Fox Tales: Are there any verticals that are especially bullish? (Print, cable, newspapers, radio, online, etc.)
SRDS: Trends we see that are bullish include migrating towards podcasts, streaming TV and digital. Print is still notably relevant, and we are seeing that most buys are a combination of print and podcasts/tv/digital. A majority of the agencies subscribing to SRDS are including print offerings because they know the importance of bundling media together to create a holistic campaign.
Fox Tales: And the opposite: Which ones are most challenged or distressed?
SRDS: We see newspapers continue to experience challenging times. We do see that they are adapting to the new atmosphere of creating custom solutions to include digital, print, newsletter, and sponsored opportunities.
Fox Tales: Does the flow of marketing dollars correspond with the above? In other words, if magazines were going gangbusters with their own media spending (in SRDS), would that mean it’s because marketing on their platforms is in high demand?
SRDS: Marketing dollars do not necessarily correspond directly with these trends. The COVID impact on magazine marketing initiatives, plus the ability to get access to the SRDS audience of media buyers and planners, are also factors. Magazines are aware of the necessity to increase brand visibility, and despite the extensive local and global economic issues, they understand the importance of brand awareness so they can reach the essential SRDS audience. Branding today is more prevalent than it was years ago.
Fox Tales: What’s your overall view of the economy in a macro sense going forward?
SRDS: The economy is under stress with inflation and the situation in Ukraine. While consumers may be hesitant, businesses are aware of their need to remain present and in front of the markets. The importance of advertising in a downturned market continues to be critical to all businesses and brands. In a macro sense, it’s imperative for businesses to understand their customers in relation to the current markets, businesses, and political behaviors.
Fox Tales: What’s new with SRDS? New initiatives, new tech, new offerings, new channels, more leads?
SRDS: There are a handful of new initiatives and offerings coming to SRDS in 2023. We are continuing to not only grow our teams, but also, our offerings. While print is still the top revenue producer for most of our SRDS clients’ portfolios, digital continues to grow. As a result, more association, B2B, and consumer publishers have been promoting their full suite of digital offerings within the context of their listings in SRDS. This makes for a better user experience and it helps agency media teams fully evaluate a publisher’s capabilities before they decide to partner with them.
Additionally, SRDS has launched Multicultural & Inclusive Media to include Minority Owned Media. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to have these options for both buyers and sellers. Diversity, equity, and inclusion paint a picture of the unique needs, perspectives, and significance of our clients. Our flagship newsletter, The Media Leader, successfully launched in the U.S. and we’re seeing steady growth in the audience here.
Up next on the horizon is a podcasts platform to help agencies and brands discover information on this growing segment. A new RFP platform is also in the works for publishers to engage with agency clients with the unique inventories that they control.