MBPT Spotlight: Digital Remains the Rage, But Traditional Radio Is Still A Solid Mass Reach Vehicle

When it comes to media advertising coverage, radio has seemingly become something of a forgotten medium, with digital getting the lion’s share of the ink and traditional television always in the mix. But several recent reports by Nielsen offer up data aimed at reminding marketers that tuning into radio advertising still offers plenty of benefits.

The data finds that 243 million Americans, or 92% of the population listen to radio each week. The average AM/FM radio listener listens to 60 hours, 42 minutes per month, second only to traditional TV among all media consumed by Americans. Nielsen data also shows that African-Americans on average listen to 62 hours, 51 minutes of radio per month, while Hispanics average 60 hours, 7 minutes per month.

In terms of education, 31.4% of radio listeners have attended college and 31.6% are college graduates. That compares to 23.1% of traditional TV viewers who graduated from college. Demo comparisons are fairly uniform: 12.8% are in the 19-21 group; 17.4% among 25-34-year olds; another 17.4% among the 35-44 group; 19% among those 45-54; 16.4% among those 55-64; and 17% are over 65.

Within those age groups, however, radio listening is very high. Using the current definitions of the different age groups, 92% of millennials (ages 12-34) listen to radio each week, 95% of gen-xers (35-49), 94% of baby boomers (50-64) and 86% of adults 65-plus, defined in the Nielsen report as the “silent generation” listen to radio weekly.

The weekly numbers for Hispanics and African-American listeners are equally high, with 94% of Hispanics listening to radio each week, and 92% of African-Americans doing so. The average amount of time all Americans listen to radio each week is about two-and-a-half hours per day—again, a strong factor for advertisers to consider.

Nielsen’s latest Cross-Platform Report ,which was released last month, found a majority of people are listening to radio outside the home. Other than from midnight to 5 a.m. when 59% of radio listeners are listening from home, the morning hours Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. is when the most people (43% of listeners) are listening from home. Between 7 p.m. and midnight, 36% are listening from home, but during the hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, home listeners make up about 25%.

Reaching through radio can be key for certain types of advertisers like fast food restaurants, apparel retailers and even auto dealers. One Nielsen/Arbitron report cites Scarborough research numbers that show millennial radio listeners are 42% more likely to buy a car within the next year than the general population and millennial radio listeners are 46% more likely to own a smartphone.

The Scarborough data also finds that 94% of radio listeners go to fast food restaurants more than 10 times a month and 92% visit convenience stores, while 91% bought clothing in the past three months. And 70% of radio listeners are homeowners and 70% are also employed.

Dialing In Electronically
While Nielsen still uses diaries to collect listening data in many markets, it now is using portable people meters in 48 markets where listening data is captured electronically over each 28-day period.

Jon Miller, director of programming services for Nielsen Audio, says that peak radio listening days are Thursday and Friday and adds that marketers need to be aware that because lifestyles vary from market to market, so can listening habits.

Based on Nielsen’s PPM market data, the No. 1 radio format for 2013 among all listeners was news talk information, which garnered a 9.3% share of the overall radio audience. Next was pop contemporary hit radio with an 8.2% share, followed by country with a 7.8% share, adult contemporary with a 7.7% share and hot adult contemporary with a 5.5% share. Rounding out the Top 10 formats were: classic hits with a 5.3% share, urban adult contemporary with a 5% share, all-sports radio with a 4.3% share, classic rock also with a 4.3% share, and Mexican regional with a 3.9% share.

The data includes those tuned in during any 15-minute period during the day.

The percentages and order change a bit among persons 18-34. Pop contemporary hit radio was No. 1 but with a 12.4% share. Next was country with a 9.1% share, followed by rhythmic contemporary hit radio (which includes rap and hip-hop) with 7.3%, adult contemporary with 6.3% and hot adult contemporary with a 6.1% share. Rounding out the Top 10 among listeners 18-34 were Mexican regional with a 5.6% share, urban contemporary with 5.3%, alternative with 5%, news talk information with 3.7% and classic rock with 3.6%.

The percentages for listeners 25-54 are closer to the general population but still vary a bit. The most listened to format was again pop contemporary hit radio with an 8.7% share, followed by adult contemporary and country, both with a 7.5% share, news talk information with a 6.8% share and hot adult contemporary with 6.1%. Rounding out this group’s Top 10 were urban adult contemporary and all-sports radio with 4.9%, Mexican regional and classic rock with 4.7% and classic hits with 4.6%.

Country Grew Countrywide
In its analysis, Nielsen said, “In 2013, we have seen country grow among younger listeners and set all-time highs for audience shares across the 48 Nielsen portable people meter markets; pop contemporary hit radio mature by increasing its listening share in the 25-54 demographic; spoken word (news/talk/sports) made a big rebound during the fall; and both urban contemporary and hot adult contemporary had banner years, among their best ever.”

Nielsen also recently released its December holiday listening trends, which show that, in general, listener tastes in music change during the holidays. Here’s the percentage of listener share increases by format between November and December 2013: soft adult contemporary, up 33%; adult contemporary, up 13%; hot adult contemporary and urban adult contemporary, both up 2% in listener share. Classic hits was flat.

Among the formats that saw declines in audience share between November and December were rhythmic contemporary hit radio (rap and hip-hop) and country, both down 3%; Mexican regional, down 5%; and pop contemporary hit radio, down 6%.

For December overall, the most popular format was not music, but news/talk, which posted an average quarter-hour share for each week of 9.2%. Adult contemporary was next with an 8.5% share, followed by country with a 7.7% share.