Radio stays strong as digital options and audiences grow

Following the release of the S2 GfK Commercial Radio Ratings last week, we caught up with Alistair Jamison, Radio Broadcasters Association (RBA) CEO to discuss the results and why advertisers should be including radio in their media schedules.

The recent GfK results have shown that radio listenership has remained remarkably steady and seemingly avoided the disruption that other media has experienced over the last few years. 

The survey showed over 3.41 million Kiwis – three-quarters of the population – tune in to the radio every week, a one percent increase on last year. Alistair says for the past two years, radio has been consistently sitting at around 74-75 percent of the total market in a particular week.

“From an advertiser point of view, that means that they can access the channel knowing that they are going to reach the people they need to, knowing that those audiences are engaged in the content, and by extension, probably engaged in the messaging,” he says. 

One of the key findings was that not only are many Kiwis still tuning in to the radio, but they are spending a lot of time listening to it: well over 15 hours per week, on average across all listeners. Alistair also adds that there are a number of studies that show ad avoidance in radio is quite low, as radio is reaching an audience in an environment where they are engaged and attentive.

“There’s amazing flexibility across the breadth of options that radio and audio can deliver in terms of ways that advertisers can apply or access that audience, but also the role that the channel can play in their own individual consumer journeys. The breadth and depth of options that radio provides alongside the scale of the audience means that it should be something that all advertisers are considering.”

Radio performed particularly well among key groups, reaching 81 percent of people aged 45-64 and 79 percent of grocery buyers. While its reach was slightly lower among younger age groups, two-thirds of 10-24-year-olds (66 percent) still listen to the radio each week. Many of these younger listeners do so online; the survey found one in four radio listeners (850,000) use digitally streamed radio.

Alistair notes that the data indicates people are accessing radio across a range of devices. “What that means is that in total, of all radio listening, 13 percent of it is through a device, but that’s 25 percent of people spending some time with streamed radio is probably the way to think about it. It’s a big number using it but it’s a part of the portfolio of ways that they listen. The great thing is that as points of listening increase via mobiles or smart speakers we are not losing our broadcast listeners, so we are growing audience options for advertisers.”

As for advertisers considering what platforms they should be using in their media plans, Alistair recommends that they spend time engaging and talking to providers of the content to better understand what is available and this includes all audio platforms like podcasts as well.

“There’s possibly a little bit of a misunderstanding around exactly what the options are in podcast. How the messaging gets played out, how it works across different platforms, etc. Basically the short answer to that is the messaging goes into the content.

“Regardless of the podcast platform that you listen on, you will receive that messaging.. I think for advertisers, I’d just be encouraging them to, across the spectrum of audio options, be looking at what’s available, doing their best to explore the opportunities and talk to the experts.

“Talk to the networks, talk to the providers and explore what works. Because there’s so much content from radio to podcast, and so many opportunities to embed or to align your brand and messaging with relevant content and points of view.” 

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