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Ads On AM/FM Radio Most Likely To Hold Attention, New Research Shows.

It's official: advertising on AM/FM radio passes the sticky test.

The results of a MARU/Matchbox study conducted last October by Cumulus Media in conjunction with Canada's Signal Hill Insights show that ads on over-the-air AM/FM radio stations are least likely to be tuned out or avoided by consumers, with just over a third saying they never do so, or do so less than half the time. Based on the results of the survey taken among more than 1,500 people in the U.S. age 13 or over, that's the highest level of attentiveness for any medium, with streamed AM/FM stations also among the four stickiest, along with print and podcasts.

“Of all media, AM/FM radio ads are number one for being noticed and holding attention,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in the latest edition of Westwood One's “Everyone's Listening” blog, explaining why these ads show a higher attentiveness level than those on free online streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, which are “background music at home, while AM/FM radio is consumed out of the home while consumers are commuting, shopping and working. Listeners say AM/FM radio is more audible than Pandora and Spotify: 30% more say they 'can hear what people are talking about' listening on AM/FM radio vs. Pandora and Spotify. More foreground and more engaged.”

Also notable in these results is that consumers are far more likely to skip ads on social media and digital platforms such as pop-ups and online video, which runs counter to what media agencies and brands thought, based on a Cumulus-commissioned Advertiser Perception study of 300 of them in December, where six in ten thought consumers concentrate a lot on social media. “Traditional media impressions are worth more than digital impressions,” Bouvard says. “Linear TV, print, and audio enjoy much stronger attentiveness than digital platforms. Consumers notice ads in traditional media more and skip ads less.”

Additional research from Signal Hill asked Canadian listeners about the key benefits of each type of audio, comparing AM/FM to streaming services, podcasts and owned music, which also show the benefits of radio ads. “Advertising works so much better in AM/FM radio and podcasts because consumers use them to learn, to be connected, and to get information,” Bouvard says.

Measuring ad attentiveness has become an important issue for advertisers, based on the December Advertiser Perception study. As it turns out, half say they have discussed attentiveness as a metric for measuring the effectiveness of media investments, while two-thirds feel consumer attention metrics are important measurements of ad effectiveness.

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