Radio Works to Drive Business Forward

Tapping into radio’s loyal, attentive, and social audience yields a boost to the bottom line

Author: Tammy Greenberg, SVP/Business Development, RAB

The current economic environment and consumer concerns over inflation are challenging marketers and media alike to do more with less in an increasingly complicated and competitive marketplace. Add to that the ongoing threat of another health crisis, the rapid influx of advancing technology, and the multiplicity of events in 2023 and their long tail impact, one thing has remained stable, efficient, results-driven, and a trusted partner to marketers. Radio.

Recently, RAB released a study in partnership with Engagement Labs that proves once again that radio’s enduring influence to drive action is undeniable. The study reveals heavy radio listeners generate nearly 5 billion weekly brand conversations, surpassing heavy users of TV, social media, magazines, and newspapers. By leading brand conversations in categories as diverse as sports, financial services, and technology, radio emerges as the bridge between brands and their target audiences.

Influence can only come from a basis of trust and one of the many reasons that listeners trust radio is their longstanding (18-year average) relationships with radio’s on-air personalities, aptly known as the original social influencers. Consumers put tremendous value on their favorite hosts’ opinions, consider them to be friends, and are actively engaged. Seven in 10 radio listeners in a 2023 survey conducted by Katz Radio Group said they interact online, offline, or in person with radio hosts. According to Katz, adults 18 to 34 are the most engaged age bracket, taking advantage of radio-hosted contests, events, and following their favorite stations on social media.

Everyday Influencers Amplify Reach and Results

The impact that radio personalities have doesn’t stop with the listeners they reach. Radio’s loyal followers are a massive group of everyday influencers who amplify the brand conversations that radio personalities share. The Engagement Labs study found that heavy radio listeners are 25 percent more likely than the average person to be everyday consumer influencers, and the likelihood that they are influencers grows when drilling down by category of business. For example, heavy radio listeners are 32 percent more likely than heavy television viewers to be children’s products influencers and are 39 percent more likely than heavy social media users to be household products influencers. As Vanessa Lontoc, Engagement Lab’s VP of marketing shares in a recent post for the Radio Matters Blog, “Heavy radio listeners aren’t just passive consumers; they are influential everyday consumers. These influencers have a unique power: the ability to enhance both the quantity and quality of brand conversations. Recognizing these influencers and nurturing their impact can significantly bolster your bottom line.”

To further emphasize the point: Engagement Labs in a presentation given to RAB in September cites a beverage advertiser that enjoyed an 83 percent lift in word of mouth, driven by everyday listeners who heard a radio personality’s endorsement in the previous week as compared to non-listeners. Word of mouth is an extremely powerful KPI for brands as it is the most trustworthy advertising channel among U.S. consumers, according to Nielsen’s 2023 “U.S. Trust in Advertising” survey. Radio’s role in driving word of mouth is hard to argue, it is based on earned trust, and it drives consideration, intent, and purchase.

Audio’s Immersive Nature Delivers Brand Outcome

Consumers have a choice as to what they pay attention to and when it comes to audio, they listen and it resonates. Findings from a 2023 dentsu study show that audio ads inclusive of AM/FM radio and podcasts have the highest attentiveness of all media formats, AdAge reports. Audio outperforms norms for other advertising in terms of brand recall, brand choice, and, importantly, attentive seconds that listeners spend with the medium. Per AdAge, the study was commissioned by dentsu and conducted by attention research firm Lumen with participation from Amazon Ads, Audacy, Cumulus Media, iHeartMedia, Spotify, and SXM Media. The report found audio advertising produced average attentive seconds of more than 10,100 per thousand impressions, which is more than 50 percent higher than the norm (6,501 attentive seconds) of other media in measured in past dentsu studies.

Efficiency Matters from the Top to the Bottom of the Funnel

Despite the significant outcomes radio achieves, as the AdAge article notes, video (television and digital) still rule ad budgets with CPMs that are at least double and sometimes reaching 10 times the cost than what is achievable with radio. Radio is efficient and drives outcomes across all vertical categories of business.

Radio across audio channels and platforms delivers marketers unparalleled reach, frequency, and precision targeting to enhance and increase efficiency of their media plans. Long known as an amplification medium, radio consistently lifts brand metrics that lead to sales: A collaboration between independent data analysis agency Colourtext and U.K. AM/FM radio trade association Radiocentre produced what Westwood One calls “the largest and most comprehensive AM/FM radio ad effectiveness report ever conducted.” Part of the report examines AM/FM campaign efforts for tier one auto brands; it shows brand lift from radio is four to 11 times greater than AM/FM radio’s share of media spend with significant increases in ad awareness (87.5 percent), brand relevance (33 percent), and brand trust (32 percent), per Westwood One.

Findings from the Colourtext/Radiocentre study correlate with Audacy’s recently updated “State of Audio” report, which concludes “AM/FM radio shines all the way through the funnel.” According to the report, radio drives 48 percent of consumers to purchase, which surpasses TV (44 percent), social media (38 percent), and video (26 percent), and advertisers see 1.5 times the return on ad spend when digital audio is combined with AM/FM radio. Audio’s ability to convert in conjunction with other media boosts the performance of other media by 17 percent or more, per Audacy.

Citing a Forrester study, Inside Radio notes 61 percent of marketers say improving their full-funnel media investment is a high or critical priority over the next 12 months. “Audio is now a truly multi-purpose platform,” Paul Suchman, CMO at Audacy, tells Inside Radio. “Thanks to precision targeting, authentic influencers whose listeners follow them across channels, and advanced measurement, marketers are uncovering the best-kept secret in media – audio’s ability to drive impact at every funnel stage.”

Trusted, immersive, influential, efficient, and effective, that’s what brands can count on radio to deliver both in the best of times and in the most challenging. Consumers have a deep reliance on radio as their trusted guide, companion, and source for entertainment, information, and storytelling. Marketers who share that reliance reap the rewards of consumer loyalty, engagement, and purchase behavior.

As 2023 nears its close, there has never been a better time to reflect upon the past year and revisit marketing and media strategies to steer growth in the new year. Radio across audio channels will fulfill an important role in that mix.


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