MBPT Spotlight: Nielsen Report Reminds Marketers Not To Forget About Radio’s Reach

A major reason why marketers continue to move ad dollars out of TV and into digital platforms is to reach millennial consumers, but Nielsen’s latest audio report reminds advertisers that radio continues to be a valuable tool to reach that audience as well.

“While advertisers and marketers spend significant amounts of money, time and effort to reach Generation Y across multiple platforms available today, they should remember to connect with these young adults on one of the original platforms for consuming content—radio,” the report says.

Data shows that of 243 million Americans aged 12 or over using radio each week, 66.6 million of them are millennials (ages 18-34), more than the 57.9 million are gen Xers (35-49) and a similar number of the listeners are baby boomers (50-64).

Millennials spend an average of 11 hours, 26 minutes a week listening to radio with 73% of that listening occurring outside the home, but also close to when they’re making purchasing decisions. A total of 91.3% of all millennials in the U.S. are reached weekly by radio with the top daypart being 3 p.m.-7 p.m. The radio listening gender breakdown among millennials is 53% male and 47% female, and the top music format nationwide is country.

While more millennials are listening to radio each week, older generations are also heavy radio listeners and also are attractive targets for marketers. In fact, gen Xers spend 13 hours and 45 minutes per week listening to radio, while boomers spend 15 hours and six minutes per week with the radio on. The best time to target gen Xers is from 6 a.m.-10 a.m. weekdays, while best times to reach boomers is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.

The report advises marketers not to ignore radio since consumers can listen when they are in their cars and on the way to shop. “Radio delivers a mass audience in real time across markets large and small...and it can be reached outside the home when they’re ready to buy.”

The report also points out that 91.2% of teens 12-17 listen to radio each week and they can also be targeted with relevant ad messages. Radio penetration among both African-Americans and Hispanics of all ages also exceeds 90% each week.

Among gen Xers, country music overall is the No. 1 format just like for millennials, and the gender listener breakdown is the same—53% male and 47% female.

Among boomers, country music again is the top music format, and the gender listener breakdown is the same as for millennials and gen Xers.

The Hispanic radio audience each week totals 39.9 million with Mexican Regional music being the top format. The audience composition is again 53% male and 47% female and the best time to reach a majority of Hispanic consumer listeners is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.

About 31 million African-Americans use radio each week and there the audience gender composition is a bit different with 48% male and 52% female listeners each week. The most popular music format is urban adult contemporary and the best time to reach this consumer group is 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

More consumers listen to radio on weekdays than weekends. The ratings peak hours during the week are between 7 a.m.-5 p.m., while on the weekends, peak rating hours are between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The highest rated hour on weekdays is 7 a.m., while on weekends it is 12 noon.

Radio listening, unlike TV watching, which takes a dip during the summer months, is fairly steady year-round, ranging from a low of 10.3 million people per quarter-hour per month in the portable people meter markets in December to a high of 11.4 million people per quarter-hour in May. Throughout the summer months from June through September, the half-hour average in PPMs is 11 million listeners.

Radio listening peaks on Thursdays with 186.3 million listeners nationwide and on Fridays it averages 184.9 million listeners. Sunday is the lowest radio listening day nationwide, averaging 137.6 million listeners. Weekend radio sees audience sizes about 80% of what the weekday audiences are.

Of particular interest to advertisers is that radio reaches consumers close to the point of purchase with a majority of radio usage coming from an employed audience away from their homes.

Among millennials, 76% of radio listeners are employed either full-time or part-time, while among gen X, 83% are employed full-time or part-time. Among boomers, 73% are employed full-time or part-time. Among Hispanics, 75% are employed full-time or part-time, while among African-Americans, 65% of radio listeners are employed full-time or part-time.

Radio compares very favorably to the other media platforms in regard to consumer demographics. The average age of heavy radio listeners nationwide is 44, compared to 53 for TV, 51 for print and 32 for Internet users. Heavy radio listeners at 68% work either full-time or part-time, compared to 45% of TV viewers, 57% of print readers and 69% of Internet users.

The average yearly household income of heavy radio listeners is $73,500, compared to $62,600 for TV users, $76,000 for print users and $79,400 for Internet users.

Some other interesting data:

• Heavy listeners of radio spend more time online (8 hours, 40 minutes per week) than heavy print readers (7 hours, 56 minutes) and heavy TV watchers (6 hours, 47 minutes).

• A larger percentage of heavy radio listeners (75%) use social media than heavy print readers (67%) and heavy TV watchers (60%).

• Heavy radio listeners spend more time watching TV (27 hours and 19 minutes per week) than heavy Internet users (24 hours and 41 minutes), but not as much as print readers watch TV (30 hours, 38 minutes a week) or heavy TV watchers (51 hours, 41 minutes).

As far as formats, country is listened to by a 15.2% share of all radio listeners, followed by news/talk at 10.6%, pop contemporary hit radio (8%), adult contemporary (7.6%), classic rock (5.6%), classic hits (5.5%), hot adult contemporary (5.3%), urban adult contemporary (4.3%), contemporary Christian (3.5%), all-sports (3.3%), urban contemporary (3.2%), rhythmic contemporary (3.0%), Mexican regional (2.6%), active rock (2%), adult hits and 80s hits (1.9%), alternative (1.8%), album oriented rock and mainstream rock (1.7%), classical (1.5%), Spanish contemporary (1.3%), religious (1.3%) and all-news (1.3%).

“In today’s rapidly evolving world of consumer choice and technological advancement, audio—and more specifically, local radio—remains an integral part of our lives,” the report says. “Radio is a trusted companion while fighting traffic in the morning, finding a soundtrack for the workday or setting the mood for the weekend as Saturday and Sunday approach.”