Radio: Consumers’ Weekly Leader

2018 is now in full swing, and with so many retrospective articles across publications it is also a great time to take a new look at media comparisons. 2017 seemed to be the year for digital and social media as seen in so many articles.

However, figures in other research publications and newsletters painted a very different image.

An eMarketer forecast noted that U.S. adults’ average daily time spent with broadcast radio is much higher than their time spent with social media. The average time spent with radio in 2017 was 1 hour and 26 minutes, compared to time spent with social media of 40 minutes via mobile devices and 11 minutes via desktop/laptop. Overall, some interesting misalignments between time spent with media were found.

Here are some observations:

  • Adults spend much more time with AM/FM radio than they do with social networks.
  • People engage with media totally different than they did a few years ago.
  • While social media use increases, Facebook still dominates.
  • Smartphone (non-voice) and tablet use account for more than one-third of adults’ time.
  • Adults’ average daily time spent with broadcast TV is more than 2 hours higher than their time spent with digital video, even in the age of Netflix and YouTube.
  • The share of consumers’ time going to non-voice mobile is now significantly lower than the share of ad dollars going to that same category.

According to the Nielsen Q2 2017 Comparable Metrics report, radio remains the highest reach medium compared to all others, reaching 93% of adults 18+.

Multitasking is primarily the reason for the overall increase in time spent with media. Radio, thanks to technology, touches consumers across platforms and devices, expanding their audio time. The reach for P18+ using streaming audio on smartphones increased from 2016 to 2017 from 38.6% to 46.5%.  As radio is the original mobile medium, it follows that radio listeners would consume audio across other platforms like smartphones, apps, and podcast listening as it is the same experience. As we have reported in previous blogs, radio can help drive awareness, improve recall and increase a lift in search.


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