Radio: Dying Medium or Underdog?

Published by | Isabella Yzerman

  • Commerce

We are exposed to infinite streams of information. For brands, capturing people’s attention in overcrowded media spheres has made share of voice a cutthroat competition—being “loud” is no longer a winnable strategy. Recent conversations around the future of media consumption are rife with rumors that radio, growing by the modest rate of 2%, is a dying media (Forbes, 2016). Radio is, however, one medium that’s contradicting popular belief among marketing professionals, showing promising potential.

Data from a 2015 Nielsen report declares the contrary and identifies radio as an integral part of media consumption for millions of Americans. In fact, radio reaches more Americans each week than any other platform with 93% of adult consumers tuning in weekly. More than 66.5 million, or 92%, of Millennials use radio each week, which amounts to almost 12 hours weekly. Radio also reaches a whopping 97% of all Hispanics each week. In fact, Nielsen reviewed the effectiveness of radio advertising by looking at the impact of ad campaigns across eight consumer packaged goods brands and two retail brands. The results revealed that a mass retailer experienced the highest contribution to total brand sales at 15.1 percent (Nielsen, 2014). In the face of these reported facts, it becomes apparent that radio isn’t dying at all, it’s evolving. As has been the case for other media consumption behaviors, the ways in which people engage with technology are indeed changing, but the entertainment-seeking behaviors that drive engagement remain.

Radio is the original social medium, says Tom Poleman, President of National Programming Platforms for iHeartMedia, because it creates a community of people that engages with and becomes a part of the culture of the day.

Instead of posing an existential threat to the future of radio, social media provides a “great feedback mechanism” for listeners to communicate what they liked and didn’t like to the station, giving broadcasters real-time insight into what listeners want to hear (Billboard, 2015). In considering the staggering rate of engagement radio accumulates, it’s evident that radio is not a platform to be ignored.