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Radio has something to shout about

Radio has recently released its latest Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) figures and results have been very impressive. Despite a decline in overall listening in Q2, the good weather being most likely to blame, almost 90% of the UK population has tuned in.

Commercial radio continues to stay ahead of the BBC, with the networked stations continuing to post listening figures well into the millions; Heart Brand 9.8m, Capital Brand 8.3m, Kiss Network 5.6m, Smooth Brand 5.6m and Magic Network 3.9m.

What’s of real interest though is how well the specialist stations are doing, for example, the 26.3% year-on-year (YoY) growth in weekly reach by Absolute 90s. This seems to reflect that people are increasingly looking for content that suits their individual interests and requirements rather than looking for mass content.

This growth in listenership has also seen a corresponding rise in ad spend across the market, with the radio up 12.5% in Q1 YoY, according to data released by WARC/AA, of which digital ad formats are up 39.3%.

All Response Media viewpoint

All these figures are great news for radio and no doubt many corks have been popping in boardrooms across the country. But, and it may be a small one, but we do need to put these spend figures into some context. Full 2017 digital revenue figures for radio were £34.8m, so with the 40% boost from Q1 that makes the total a little below £50m.

Even if you take that as a percentage of total revenue, it is still low at about 5%. Compare that with OOH, where digital revenues are over 50% of the total, newsbrands (just over 25%) and even regionals at just under 25%. That said, it is still a great performance from the medium that’s always lagged behind the other main channels and it has now just nudged ahead of magazines for the first time.

Where there are also huge potential developments is in how digital radio is being sold and measured. With the growth of programmatic digital radio on platforms such as DAX’s Listener ID or TalkSport’s ‘Shake Me’ platforms, the ability to tag and track radio advertising to generate accurate customer engagement metrics and even cost per acquisition (CPA) figures, means that digital radio is coming into its own. Data from this activity will also be added into the ARMalytics Cross Media Beta we have, that means we could potentially start to apply our tracking technology to the wider broadcast radio and how that works alongside TV and digital activity.