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Following the recent Radio Week event, is the future of radio glowing, or should we worry?

Now that the dust has settled from Radio Week back in May – a series of conferences over 6 days that covers all aspects of the radio industry – what has been the main thing that we’ve learnt?

Well, the headline would be “just how successful radio is now”. According to the 2018 annual WARC report on media spend, Radio posted record-breaking revenues in excess of £713m, the second largest offline growth sector behind out-of-home (OOH), and with revenues forecast to continue to grow at similar levels for 2019. The latest Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) numbers also show a healthy performance for commercial radio, where they continue to deliver a higher reach than the BBC.

But as with other channels, is there a longer-term problem filtering through with a youth audience switching off from traditional platforms? Netflix, Amazon and other over-the-top (OTT) offerings typically don’t carry advertising and younger viewers are using them more and more. So, does radio have a similar issue bubbling just under the surface?

Well, this brings us back to Radio Week, where a lot of very interesting work was showcased to investigate these issues. IPA Touchpoints said it well, we’re living in a world of more: more channels, more content, more devices, more choice. All of which typically leads to less attention. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as less attention means people are changing what they are doing more often, which means there are more moments that marketers can target. Also, when it comes to the younger audiences, radio is a medium that is still highly regarded.

media landscape

What was also highlighted was how it’s no longer just about broadcast radio, but multiple audio channels.

share of ear

So, while live radio still accounts for 70% of listening amongst all adults, it’s clear that this percentage is much lower for younger audiences, although for 25-34’s it still accounts for half of all their audio listening. What is more interesting though, is the options available on other audio platforms such as podcasts, audiobooks and streamed music. Podcasts, for example, are one of the fastest growing mediums with 1 in 3 people having listened to one in the last 6 months and is quickly becoming a consideration for many advertisers.

There was also a new piece of research, from the company Neuro-Insight, which has looked at how the brain responds to advertising messages. The key take-out was that advertising that relates to actives, builds on the editorial effects and boosts results significantly.chart

This is highly relevant for radio as people are typically doing something else when listening to it. For example, a Tesco ad or an ad for Branston Pickle played when cooking, or an ad for Plenty or Persil while doing housework.

Neuro-Insight found that this can be used to help build brand salience, as when asked to recall the situationally relevant ads tested, there were significantly better results for them. Drawing the picture that audio can help to deliver on campaigns that need to not only drive consideration but also the more important, sales.


All Response Media viewpoint

So, while this is admittedly positive news on the face of it, radio does need to think about how it shapes its content moving forwards. The younger listener is making increasing demands to have what they want, when they want it and are also looking at getting new content from different places, so it’s unlikely the current day part radio format can go on forever without some changes. Which is why many media owners are increasing their investment into various digital audio platforms, from apps to podcasts so that they can better target their listeners. Unlike the press, where the growth of digital has seriously affected print sales, digital is just another platform to listen to audio on and with it comes to an ever-growing audience.

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