We are all familiar with media’s shift from analog to digital and how that’s transforming the marketing landscape. The decline of television is often at the forefront of this conversation, but television is certainly not the only medium impacted by this massive shift. What is the future of the other broadcast medium: radio? How is the listener affected and how can marketers take advantage of digital audio to drive awareness and sales?
Nielsen’s Music 360 2015 report data shows that 75% of Americans listen to music online in a typical week, up almost 12% from 2014. Not surprisingly, digital audio has grown by 120 million listeners, or 522%, since 2003, according to Edison Research. Even in areas where terrestrial radio historically dominates, digital is breaking through. Online radio listening in the car is up to 38% according to Triton Digital, proving terrestrial radio advertising is not the only option to reach people on their morning and evening commutes.
So where are all these digital audio streamers flocking? Triton Digital ranked Pandora, Spotify, iHeart, NPR and CBS radio the top 5 digital audio providers with the highest number of average active sessions per month. Pandora came out in first place with almost twice as many Average Active Sessions as second place Spotify. Pandora is the overall leader in digital audio, and has been for years. In categories like brand awareness, networks listened to in the last month and networks listened to in the last week, Pandora comes out on top – often with twice as many percentage points as the second place network (The Infinite Dial 2016, Edison Research).
But in addition to becoming increasingly digital, music listening is also becoming increasingly mobile. According to the same report by Edison Research, 44% of Americans listen to music on their smartphones in a typical week. Radio is the largest mobile medium with 258 million monthly listeners (Nielsen Total Audience Media Universe Infographic 2015).
The data says it all: consumers engaged with audio are going online, and online consumers are going mobile. To leverage this trend to benefit your media strategy, we advise the following tactics:
Include multiple forms of audio in your media mix
Terrestrial may be best for reaching commuters in the morning and evening. Spotify may be the right choice for a young demo, or reaching music streamers at work. NPR might hit “hipsters” and music enthusiasts. Each outlet engages with different demographics at different times, and multiple forms of audio will complement each other by attracting unique audiences that other outlets may not be able to reach.
There is no question that one of the best ways to take advantage of the changes in audio is by expanding your advertising strategy to include mobile in your mix. This is the perfect outlet for reaching commuters and young demographics. As mobile continues to grow, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to engage with the enormous audiences it attracts.
Complement terrestrial campaigns with digital audio buys
Many terrestrial radio stations offer digital plans at low costs in addition to terrestrial buys. These digital accompaniments work well to reach the online audience that the traditional medium is missing.
Look beyond Pandora and Spotify for streaming
While Pandora and Spotify are at the top of the streaming game, they can be expensive, and are certainly not the only options. Try streaming audio on last.fm, iTunes Radio, CBS Radio, Radio.com, or Songza.
Take advantage of precise targeting
Radio is no longer confined to two dayparts — morning and evening commute. What hasn’t changed about radio is its ability to be an effective local medium. Now with unlimited data at our fingertips, radio has become even more “local” as geographic, demographic and time-of-day targeting become more dynamic.
Our job as a media agency is to follow the consumer and get our clients’ messages out in front of the audiences that will engage with their brands. Audio isn’t dying, as some might like to say of TV. With digital’s precise targeting abilities, the rise of digital audio has the potential to work out in the advertiser’s favor – with the right strategy.