At a time when other traditional media are bleeding audiences, radio’s reach remains strong. Newspaper circulation is plummeting, and many local advertisers have already moved money away from print media. TV ratings are in decline, as viewers stray to mobile, DVRs, streaming services and video on demand. At the same time, mobile and digital use are exploding.
Radio, meanwhile, has managed to grow its overall audience. According to Nielsen’s latest Audience Report, 243 million Americans, or 91% of consumers 12 and older, tune into radio weekly. Radio is also strong among digitally-savvy younger consumers, with 91.3% of adults 18 to 34 tuning in weekly. “Radio has been placed on the back burner, first because of television and now all digital media,” says Brad Adgate, SVP of research for Horizon Media. “But radio is still a very viable medium for advertisers.” Radio, he adds, has been a “consistent performer and predictable” for advertisers.
The live nature of radio may be its strongest pitch: Not only can it offer mass audience, but radio is consumed mostly live, creating immediacy. That’s particularly important as consumers lifestyles change. Customers are more likely than ever to arrive in a store having heavily researched their intended purchase. And, as more families have two working adults, workdays have shifted, forcing household purchases like groceries, gas and entertainment to happen throughout the week.
“Normal household patterns don’t hold anymore,” says Chris Protzman, VP of radio sales for E.W. Scripps Networks. “But radio has adapted.” Radio can follow listeners through the changes, moving from the home, to the car, to the workplace and on mobile devices via streaming. And radio’s local ties make it invaluable. Protzman adds: “The personal emotional connection that local radio can make drives the connection with listeners, and we can drive a faster purchasing decisions for our partners.”
Researchers say local hosts are key to getting many listeners to tune in, and, when DJs plug a product, their audience is even more likely to consider the product, service or business they are endorsing. iHeartMedia, for one, often integrates its marquee talent like Ryan Secreast and Elvis Duran with movie advertisers, such as plugging the movies on-air and teasing listeners with exclusive content, like celebrity interviews.
Horizon Media’s SVP of Research Brad Adgate says Thursday movie advertising could be a big gain for radio given that Thursday night TV is no longer the juggernaut it once was. “There is an opportunity for radio to say we are listened primary live and the message will be heard at the most critical time to build awareness that the film is opening this weekend.”