Whether you’re a sales professional or programmer, you’ve likely run into advertisers whose perceptions about radio are seriously out of whack with reality. In its first blog post of the New Year, Westwood One uses data from Nielsen, Maru/Blue, and Edison Research to deflate eight things brands have completely wrong about AM/FM radio in America. “When I'm asked what the biggest problem that U.S. radio has, my answer always is the incredible misperceptions that marketers, agencies and advertisers have about radio,” Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in a video presentation of the findings.
Perception #1: “Due to the pandemic, no one is listening to AM/FM radio.”
The thinking here goes that because everyone's working at home, no one's listening to radio. Yet, according to the Nielsen Spring 2022 Nationwide Report, AM/FM radio has retained 98% of its persons 18+ reach and 94% of persons 18-34 from the pre-pandemic Spring 2019 survey.
“Just about every single American that was listening to AM/FM radio three years ago before the pandemic is still listening to radio today,” Bouvard notes.
Perception #2: “Due to the pandemic, everyone’s working at home, and no one is commuting.”
Empirical evidence debunks this myth. According to a November 2022 Maru/Blue study, most of pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home (87%). This is compared to only 48% of pre-COVID commuters who were working outside the home in April 2020, according to a custom Nielsen study.
Perception #3: “AM/FM radio has very low reach.”
An August 2022 study by Advertiser Perceptions found marketers and agencies believe AM/FM radio’s weekly reach is 44%. Bouvard calls this “a massive miss.” In reality, 86% of all Americans are reached by AM/FM radio on a weekly basis, according to Nielsen’s Q2 2022 Total Audience Report.
Perception #4: “Audience shares to Pandora/Spotify are nearly equal to AM/FM radio.”
Marketers and agencies told Advertiser Perceptions in August 2022 that they feel audience shares of the ad-supported versions of Pandora and Spotify combined equal about 44% while AM/FM radio’s reach is around 28%. “The buzz is wrong,” Bouvard counters. Analyzing Edison Research Share Of Ear data for ad-supported audio shows AM/FM radio is nineteen times larger than ad-supported Spotify and fifteen times that of ad-supported Pandora. “In actuality, 74% of all American ad-supported audio goes to AM/FM radio,” says Bouvard.
Perception #5: “In the world of the connected car, the number one thing people do in their vehicles is stream online radio on their smartphones.”
Looking again exclusively at ad-supported audio, AM/FM radio has a dominating 89% share of in-car time spent. Podcasts came in at a distant second place with a 5% share.
Perception #6: “Today’s optimal media plan: Put all of your money into TV and digital.”
The Westwood One team used Nielsen Media Impact to analyze two different media plans. The first, which employed a typical mix of 68% linear TV, 20% digital, and 13% connected TV, achieved a 57% reach. The second had the same budget but diverted 10% of the allocation to AM/FM radio. Reach shot up to 80%. The conclusion: “Putting AM/FM radio into the plan at a modest 10% allocation lifts reach by an impressive +41%.”
Perception #7: “I would love to consider audio. However, there’s a total lack of ROI and sales lift evidence for AM/FM radio.”
Since 2013, Nielsen has conducted over a dozen return on investment studies across various consumer categories showing AM/FM radio generates significant positive return on advertising spend. For example, for every $1 invested in an auto aftermarket AM/FM radio campaign, there is a $21 sales return. Home improvement campaigns deliver a 12-to-1 return on investment.
Perception #8: “AM/FM radio listening only happens during drive times.”
When thinking about traditional AM/FM radio, advertisers and agencies believe 27% of listening occurs during weekday morning drive, followed by afternoon drive at 23% and middays at 14%. Nielsen Audio shows the highest share of time spent among persons 25-54 is afternoon drive at 22%, followed by middays and morning drive at 20% each. Advertisers perceive only 14% of all listening occurs during the weekend. The Nielsen reality is weekends account for 20% of listening, the same as morning drive. “Spreading your buy out across to include generous portions of weekends, and generous portions of the day will create a much better media plan,” Bouvard explains.