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Summer Road Travel Looks Strong, Offering Radio A Path To Advertisers.

According to a Katz Media study, half of Americans went on a road trip last summer. This year the road is likely to be filled with a lot more radio listeners as a survey by The Vacationer finds that 85% of Americans expect they will hit the highway. That includes about four in ten who say they think they will spend more time on the road this summer. Researchers say inflation and scarcity of airplane tickets will also work to convince some people to drive, rather than fly, to a destination.

Signs of increased car use in 2023 already exist. A survey commissioned by Katz Media shows eight in ten Americans used their car during last month’s Memorial Day weekend. It says that is good for radio since 80% of Americans says they listen to AM/FM radio while in the car. The MRI-Simmons Winter 2023 data shows the habit cuts across all age groups and ethnicities. It reports 79% of Hispanics, 77% of Blacks, and 71% of Asians listened to the radio while driving.

The MRI-Simmons data also shows that there are only small variances across the generations for in-car listening. Gen X is most likely to listen, with 85% saying they turn on the radio while in the car. Millennials (82%) and Baby Boomers (80%) are not far behind. The data shows that that three-quarters of Gen Z – the most digitally-focused generation so far – has also picked up the in-car radio habit.

Having people in the car is only part of the equation for radio. The other half is getting people to listen. There is good news there, too. Edison Research says radio makes up about 90% of the total time spent listening to ad-supported audio in the car.

That is likely a function of AM/FM’s lead. The data shows radio has a 20-point lead on its closest competitor, with 73% reporting they listen to broadcast radio in the car. Online audio is making some inroads – 38% report they listen to podcasts while in the car and 37% listen to online audio. Yet owned digital music still has a sizable lead on both, with a majority (53%) opting to listen to music they have downloaded.

Katz Media’s Road Trip Survey conducted in May 2021 found that road-trippers typically take advantage of their travels to explore shopping, dining, and entertainment. Three-quarters prefer to stop at restaurants and grocery stores while on a road trip. How do they find out where to go? The data shows 75% said they are open to checking out the local stations while on a road trip. Katz says that means that radio ads drive brand awareness, consideration, and store traffic among this segment.

“For retailers wanting to inspire ideas and influence where consumer dollars are spent, AM/FM radio is a must,” Katz says in a white paper. It says radio impacts consumer behavior, leading to a 29% lift in online search activity, and a 22% lift for instore traffic, on average. “And radio delivers an average $12 return for every dollar spent on ads, including large returns for the categories you'd likely encounter while on a road trip, such as grocery, gas, retail, QSRs, and snacks,” says Katz.

Download the report HERE.

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