Cookies remember you so we can ensure to give you the best experience possible. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookies and policies

Do not show this message again
UK Insights

Radio as popular as ever... for now

Kirsty Cooke

Head of Digital Content, UK

Leisure 12.02.2019 / 17:00

Young woman - Bed - Radio

As we celebrate World Radio Day (13 Feb), we look at how the medium has evolved and why it still represents a useful channel for brands.

Radio is reaching nearly 90% of people in the UK and we are listening to an average of 20 hours each per week (according to the latest Rajar data for Q4 2018). The same was pretty much true ten years ago – radio is still a popular medium, even as the methods of consumption change.

We spoke to Matt Deegan, Director of Folder Media, the radio and new media consultancy, station manager for children’s radio station Fun Kids and founder of British Podcast Awards, for our Future Proof podcast. He told us that broadcast radio has never been so popular, and that holds across all age groups... when you look at reach. However, the amount of radio consumed by young people has dropped by about a third over the last decade.  

“In the late 1990s – when there was no broadband internet, very little digital television, no mobile phones – if you wanted free music entertainment, the radio was the only place to get it. Clearly that is not the case now,” says Deegan. “I don’t think it’s a great surprise that young people spend their time among a variety of different devices. What is interesting though is that radio stays a relatively strong part of that mix.”

The numbers remain even though the methods have changed. “First you had that massive radio the device, then you had a transistor radio – so you could listen under your bedsheets – then it was in the car; the car was not a radio device, radio adopted a place where consumers already were. Similarly, with television, radio is on there; with mobile phones, it’s on there. It has always adopted other people’s platforms. Podcasting was quite technology focused; radio adopted this other thing that people developed… it’s always done a bit of that.” According to Kantar Media’s TGI consumer data, 62% of radio listeners agree that they always listen to radio when they’re in the car.

Clearly, however, the consumption of audio content is changing. Deegan believes that while podcasts may be taking some of the audience, and are in a format quite different to the “lean-back” medium of radio, they do allow radio broadcasters to apply similar skills to reach their target market. And broadcast radio has evolved too. 

Radio Getty Blue

“The product innovated as consumer desire for choice changed – that was driven by the internet, and by people using and coming across more media, and them wanting it from all of their platforms,” says Deegan. “Television’s done a pretty good job of evolving their broadcast product, be it satellite or cable or Freeview. Radio also evolved its own product. So now, in an internet world where there aren’t barriers to entry, its meant that radio has kept hold of its audience pretty much and its developed the new products.”

At the same time, Deegan doesn’t believe the internet has changed radio as much as you may imagine. “Less than 50% of radio is consumed on AM and FM; the vast majority of that other 50% is DAB – 70% of all digital listening is through DAB broadcast digital radio. As radio evolved its product, you went from markets having 15 radio stations to now... at my bedside I have 80 radio stations, on my DAB radio,” says Deegan. “Less radio is consumed on the internet than is consumed in the car. There’s a huge difference. Radio’s had this success of evolving its platform and evolving its product. Now the question is: that 20 hours that people listen to, is it going to flip to internet or mobile? And there’s no evidence it’s going to. It feels mad to argue against the internet when it’s come and crushed most things, but none of the data points particularly in that direction.”

So what is the future of radio, in Deegan's view? “I think radio might go one of two ways. A lot of radio’s success came from being middle of the road; the thing we can all agree on, particularly in offices, historically, pre-headphones. I think it will diversify and split a bit more. Some people say Spotify is the end of Capital and Heart banging out the hits – actually I think the opposite. I think you can do more of that. because if people want that environment of someone else choosing current pop records, even with a little bit of chattering, actually radio does that pretty well. And then you go the other way of speech and focused stations too. So I think, like a lot of media, it will probably fragment more. The radio groups have been coping with that and launching broad stations and more fragmented, niche radio stations – so they’ve got to keep innovating in that space. And then doing stuff which isn’t just broadcast radio.”

Which means its still a reasonable bet for brands, although they might augment their advertising approach. 20% of radio listeners agree that they “often notice the advertisements on the radio” (Kantar Media’s TGI consumer data). A meta-analysis of 798 CrossMedia studies globally for Kantar’s AdReaction: The Art of Integration report in 2018 showed that about 6% of media investment from brands goes towards radio. This benchmarks appropriately for its impact, finds Kantar, as it drives 4% of awareness, 5% of associations and 4% of motivation to purchase.

Radiocentre finds that commercial radio took in a record-breaking £713.3m in ad revenue last year, thanks to investment from the likes of Amazon, Sky and cosmetics companies (who traditionally wouldn’t use a non-visual medium). Deegan believes the ad spot will remain popular, but podcast sponsorships, creative integrations with hosts and even brand-owned podcasts could be a lucrative route to target markets through audio. 

But, of course, there are continuing benefits of advertising via broadcast radio, says Deegan: it delivers reach and trust. Kantar Media’s TGI consumer data says 31% of radio listeners listen to the radio “mainly for companionship” – so we won’t be switching off or over unless we can truly get that somewhere else.

Source : Kantar, Kantar Media, Kantar Millward Brown

Latest Stories

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by the fastest rate since November last year, at 0.7% over the past 12 weeks.

As an industry, we like to make annual predictions… but what are we getting wrong? Matt Muir tells us what to ignore, and what we’ve missed.

Jane Ostler and Margo Swadley discuss the trends and changes in media, including TV, radio, social and esports.

Discover what makes a strong brand in 2020 with the new Best of BrandZ compilation.

The latest figures from Kantar show the grocery market achieved modest 0.3% growth during the past 12 weeks.

Related Content