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Report: People Are Looking for Radio's ‘Immersive Experience.’

As evidenced by station activity since the lifting of COVID restrictions, and backed up by research of consumers and advertisers, radio is showing a greater focus on creating a more immersive experience with listeners, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau's latest blog for the Association of National Advertisers. “Despite the pandemic, growth in audio continued in 2020 and has picked up at an accelerated rate this year because it offers people an immersive and intimate experience they came to rely on during the crisis,” RAB Senior VP of Business Development Tammy Greenberg says. “More people are now looking for the type of experience that radio has long provided.”

The blog cites Audacy's March 2021 study showing that audio – including over-the-air, streaming-over-the-air and podcasts – is more immersive than other media, including linear TV, social media, Google search results, print media and AI-driven pureplay platforms. The study also found that for advertisers, digital audio campaign performance was 99% stronger at driving web traffic when coupled with an OTA program, as opposed to when digital audio ran alone, and that on average, multi-channel audio campaigns increase digital sales by 55%. Audacy's report states that “advertisers fully invested in audio have long understood that there’s an amplification effect when they deploy a comprehensive audio plan.”

RAB's Greenberg also notes how radio has successfully leveraged social audio platforms during their boom in popularity during the pandemic, and how radio's immersive strengths constructed the social media framework. “[While] broadcasters have embraced social audio technology by bringing its trusted and brand-safe equities to these platforms, the success of social audio stems from what radio has long known and provided,” she says. “Radio is the original social medium, connecting communities of like-minded listeners with radio personalities who initiate and steer the dialogue and keep people glued to the station. The conversations, the storytelling, the connection to local and national news and information, the entertainment, and the live play-by-play sporting events that put listeners in the middle of the game, deliver the social connections consumers crave.”

Also mentioned is radio's use of events to bolster the immersion effect, even during COVID. “The pandemic upended live events, and radio broadcasters were quick to reinvent the wheel,” Greenberg says. “Throughout 2020, broadcasters produced events and experiences that ultimately boosted both appeal and engagement, delivered exceptional content, and united communities when they needed it most.”

With a focus on immersion, “radio has always and will continue to be inclusive; meeting with, entertaining, informing, inspiring, connecting, and supporting diverse audiences in the communities in which they live,” Greenberg says. “Marketers poised to leverage its strengths have the opportunity to connect in a more immersive and inclusive way with a wide array of consumers.”

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