Inside Info: As Auto Sales Recover, Radio Delivers High Mileage Drivers.


The COVID-19 outbreak has ravaged the U.S. economy and that’s having a significant impact on radio revenues. But there is good news on the horizon for one of radio’s largest ad categories. The U.S. auto industry may recover to near pre-pandemic levels before the end of 2020, according to analysts from J.D. Power and Cadillac who spoke at a State of the Auto Industry webinar on Tuesday (Aug. 11) moderated by The Wall Street Journal’s Tracey Baldwin. “The recovery of auto sales means auto dealers and manufacturers will be more inclined to advertise and radio has a strong story to tell” says Jill Medina, Southwest Manager of The Media Audit.


In an online survey of 61,388 adults, The Media Audit shows planned new vehicle purchasers spend nearly three hours a day with radio, more time than with any other major medium.


“The extensive listening duration, combined with radio’s 85% reach of planned new vehicle purchasers, adds up to great reach and frequency for auto dealers,” says Medina.


Radio’s auto story gets even better for domestic manufacturers and dealers. Domestic vehicle intenders listen to radio more than three hours a day, compared to 2.5 hours for adults in general.


As a mobile medium, it’s not surprising that heavy radio listeners are high mileage drivers. On average, 10% of the population drives more than 350 miles a week, per Media Audit data. But the high mileage portion jumps to 30% among heavy radio listeners and nearly 40% of medium listeners.


The more miles people drive, the more often they trade in their car and the more often they need to service their car. Television and radio reach about the same percent of high mileage drivers planning to purchase or lease a new vehicle in the next 12 months. Radio reaches 92% and TV 95%.


“Car dealers spend a lot of ad dollars on TV but they should also take a good look at radio,” Medina contends.


TV is now putting a heavy emphasis on selling over-the-top streaming services in addition to over-the-air. Yet streaming audio reaches 88% of high mileage drivers planning to purchase or lease a vehicle. That’s nearly 20% more than OTT streaming services, which reach 75% of the lucrative target.


“From reach and frequency to efficiency and targetability, radio has a great opportunity to help the rebounding auto industry and to increase its revenues,” Medina says.

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