Survey: Ad Buyers Still Underestimate Radio’s Share Of Media Day.


It is said perception is reality, so a challenge for radio ad sellers in 2021 is this: they need to change the perception of how much time radio captures in Americans’ media day in order to make bigger ad budgets a reality. That is based on an analysis that compares how much time marketers and ad agencies think AM/FM gets versus what Nielsen data actually shows.


Pierre Bouvard, Cumulus Media’s Chief Insights Officer, has shared the results of an Advertiser Perceptions survey conducted among 300 buyers in August 2020 that revealed ad buyers think most people give about seven percent of their daily media time to AM/FM radio. “The reality is nearly double that at 13%,” he wrote in a blog post.


But the problem is not just one felt by radio. Television may receive outsized ad buys, yet marketers and agency buyers surveyed still underestimated TV’s share of the media day. The good news for radio is that the gap between perception and reality is not as wide as with some other media.


“There is a stunning difference in how Americans actually spend time with devices and media versus how media decision makers perceive how consumers spend their time,” said Bouvard. “Marketers and agencies underestimate American time spent with live TV, smartphones, and AM/FM radio.”


Bouvard said the underestimation of radio’s share seems to reflect media decision-makers believing their media habits are similar to everyone else’s. “To create informed planning decisions, marketers and agencies should take the ‘me’ out of ‘media’ and fully understand today’s media behaviors,” he wrote in the post.


While radio and TV are getting shortchanged, several digital media enjoy an overinflated perception. Bouvard said that marketers and agencies overestimate time spent with tablets, internet-connected devices, time-shifted TV, video game consoles, and DVDs/Blu-rays. No media has a bigger advantage than the internet on the computer. While buyers think it accounts for one of every five minutes of the time spent with media each day, Nielsen data shows its share is nearly three-quarters smaller.


Bouvard said the inflated estimates for digital platforms are not surprising since media conferences and trade publications tend to focus on new platforms and emerging media, creating an “objects may appear larger than they are” phenomenon. “Constant time spent examining small consumer trends can exaggerate their perceived size,” he said.


Changes brought about by COVID-19 may have exacerbated the problem for radio. In an October survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions, the data showed marketers and ad agency buyers had misconceptions about the number of people who were driving to work. They believe only 32% are commuting every day, while the October 2020 data from the U.S. Federal Reserve showed 56% were commuting to work daily.


“The biggest risk for AM/FM radio is the 26-year-old planner who lives in New York or Chicago and does not commute by car and does not listen to AM/FM radio and thus does not think anyone else listens to AM/FM radio,” acknowledged Colin Kinsella, the CEO of Havas Media North America.

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