Radio’s reach is second to none but how does it stack up in terms of audience engagement with advertiser messages? A new study from Edison Research and NPR shows AM/FM listeners are more engaged with ads on radio than TV viewers and social media users are with ads on those platforms.
The national online survey conducted from Jan. 13-21, 2021 shows nearly two-thirds (64%) of people who reported listening to AM/FM in a week prior to the survey say they typically stay tuned in for the ads. The percentages were slightly higher for podcasts (65%) and NPR (67%) and slightly lower for online audio services (62%). But Edison found that audio overall outperformed streaming television/online clips (58%), live or recorded television (56%) and social media (51%) for sticking around for the commercial message.
“They are doing more than just hearing ads, they are engaging with them,” Edison Research VP Megan Lazovick said during an online presentation of “Radio: Live on Air and Everywhere,” last week. Three listener segments that the study identified as the heaviest users – Radio Heads, Connection Seekers, and Infomaniacs – were found to be the most open to advertising messages.
Nearly half of all AM/FM radio listeners surveyed (46%) said they considered a new company, product or service as a result of hearing an ad on the radio. More than four in ten (42%) said they gathered info about a company product or service as a result of hearing an ad, a percentage that jumped to 50% among NPR listeners. About one third of each group said they made a purchase as a result of hearing an ad.
For ad sellers positioning radio as a more efficient marketing vehicle than television, the study provided a treasure trove of talking points. While nearly half (47%) of AM/FM radio listeners and 45% of NPR listeners agree they learn about local businesses from ads on the radio, the portion dropped to less than a third for TV/streaming video users.
Similarly, higher numbers of radio (47%) and NPR (51%) listeners agreed that listening to/watching ads is a fair trade for the free content they get on radio. That’s 11 percentage points higher than the same statement about television.
Radio and TV aren’t that far apart when it comes to forming a more positive opinion of a company when they hear it advertised on the air or being more likely to trust it. But NPR has a significantly larger halo effect in this regard.
Taking a wider view of engagement, the study found more than four in ten (43%) weekly radio listeners said radio engages them in a more positive way than other media, compared to 41% for TV. Here again NPR has a halo effect with 59% agreeing that it engages their mind in a more positive way than other media does.
Even with the growth in available online audio and other options, this new research reveals that 33% of AM/FM radio listeners say the platform is becoming a more important part of their lives.
“With things like podcasts and streaming music generating so much buzz, radio sometimes has trouble standing out and telling its story. But that’s what happens when something is such a deep part of so many people’s lives,” Lazovick said. “Each and every day two thirds of American adults tune in and for long spans of time. Just because something has been around for a while doesn’t mean it isn’t there providing enormous audiences and engaged responses from tens of millions of people, every hour of every day,”
While radio provides big reach and frequency, NPR VP of Sponsorship Marketing Lamar Johnson pointed out that those who will hear ad messages the most on radio are its most engaged listeners. “Certainly in the audio sphere but perhaps in all of ad supported media, nothing can offer the combination of reach and engagement that radio does.”
The results are based on a national online survey commissioned by NPR of 1,500 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted by Edison Research from Jan. 13-21, 2021. All respondents reported listening to AM/FM radio (traditional or streamed) in the last week. Data was weighted to match the sex, age, and ethnicity of AM/FM radio weekly listeners from The Infinite Dial from Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Download the full report HERE.