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Nielsen Study Spotlights AM/FM Radio's Importance In Political Advertising.

Nielsen’s recently-released “Optimizing Political Campaigns To Win In November” report focuses not only on how the disruption of consumers' video media habits has made it more difficult for traditional TV to reach voters, but how AM/FM radio is equipped to compensate for that loss.

While an analysis of Nielsen's data from Katz Media shows broadcast and cable TV's share of time spent with video entertainment fell 19.4% in 2023 vs. 2021, as share of video streaming – much of which is not ad-supported – grew 35.7%, the report also notes that AM/FM radio's audience is significantly more ad-friendly than broadcast or cable TV, which bodes well for the medium as more political ads hit the airwaves.

Simply put, nearly two-thirds of AM/FM listeners in Nielsen's April 2023 survey of 3,000 adults 18+ say they “occasionally” or “never” skip ads when they air. “Being an ideal 'sticky' ad environment is a major benefit for advertisers,” Katz's report says. “Radio is the least-skipped ad platform, meaning consumers are engaged with ads when they air, [while] ad avoidance plagues video streaming services, whether they are free, paid, or even live. Candidates investing in radio will have a better chance of resonating with voters, compared to streaming video services and TV.”

While Nielsen's study and Katz's analysis point out AM/FM radio's better-than-TV monthly reach of voters of both political parties as well as of unaffiliated voters – and how adding AM/FM to a media plan boosts voter reach by 17% – it's also worth noting that an optimized plan with 20% of budget going to radio vs. none reaches 15% more Democratic, 15% more Republican, and 23% more unaffiliated voters.

“Current political campaigns that aren’t using radio are willingly leaving voters on the table,” Katz's report says. “AM/FM radio should be considered a priority for reaching voters across the board. Radio’s high reach extends to voters across all ages, ethnicities, geographies, voting frequency, and more.”

Looking at 2022's Senate and gubernatorial races, Nielsen's report also points out that 39 winning candidates across 27 states used AM/FM radio during their campaigns, with a third of them airing radio spots anywhere from nine to 13 weeks before Election Day.

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