Combining radio with digital is proving to be a sure-fire way to increase ROI. We live in a fast-paced world, focused on recovering from a devastating pandemic. Brands have to fight for our attention and reaching a specific target audience is becoming a greater challenge. In this environment, radio and digital is proving to be a two-punch strategy that can save the day, and advertisers who combine these two channels are seeing incredible results.


The very disruption in the radio industry that led many to declare the imminent demise of the medium, has actually strengthened it and led to an astonishing resurgence. Today, radio is driving the development of multiple new opportunities such as streaming, online radio, podcasting and new audio content sharing platforms that are fast changing the advertising landscape. All the while, traditional radio is alive and well, and still a super effective way to reach a target audience.

Digital advertising has proven itself to be relevant and ubiquitous, allowing for genuine B2C and B2B connections. Using social media to get found and to become liked is incredibly valuable and just like radio, without a digital strategy, brands will struggle to succeed.

Combining two powerful channels

When you decide to combine radio with digital, you get the power of radio’s ability to engage and drive search, along with the powerful increase in presence provided by your digital strategy. The result is a much improved two-way communication with your target market, to drive a much higher ROI. Combining radio and digital allows for your message to be reinforced across multiple platforms, strengthening both the message and creating a more cohesive strategy. When a potential client knows your name, can sing your jingle and sees you near the top of the search results, that is extremely powerful.

Most stations already have a highly developed digital ecosystem and will develop a supporting digital strategy around most traditional radio campaigns. This will include carefully placing visual ads in places where the advertisers’ target audience will visit. Thanks to the nature of radio, radio station websites and social media enjoy high traffic. This is the way listeners enter contests and engage with the radio station and their favourite personalities, so it is the ideal place to execute digital strategy and improve the target market’s connection with a brand.

Beyond the enormous reach of station websites, radio stations are also equipped to place all forms of relevant digital advertising, outside of their owned properties. These digital elements should mirror on-air radio advertising to create consistency and maximize potential ROI.

With the many challenges of getting the economy and business back on a growth path, it only makes sense that we take advantage of every avenue that we have. Getting discovered can be tough, and standing out and being remembered can be even harder. Radio and digital are the vibrant double act that takes care of those universal marketing pains.

Written by Rivak Bunce, Managing Director of United Stations.

Radio advertising revenue has made an astonishing recovery from the blow it took during the first year of the pandemic. Since the incremental reopening of business activity began, advertiser investment has grown swiftly . Why is radio doing so well?

The booming fortunes of radio suggest that there are multiple factors conspiring in its favour. One of these is that radio has been bolstered rather than challenged by new technology. Technology has enabled radio to become a multi-platform medium, accessed through analogue and digital broadcast receivers and increasingly streamed to mobiles, smart speakers, PCs, and tablets (according to The Infinite Dial report 2022, 64% of South Africans listen to radio on a mobile, TV or computer). All of this technology has contributed to raising the profile of audio entertainment, especially radio.

The rise in listening to radio and other audio content via connected devices, is also creating new commercial opportunities in the form of digital audio advertising placed into streamed or downloaded audio content including radio, on-demand music services, and podcasts (already 48% of South Africans are familiar with podcasting – The Infinite Dial report 2022). United Stations has placed itself at the forefront of this opportunity, by providing advertisers with targeted audio ads in prestigious environments. This has been accelerated by its partnerships with Wondery (the world’s largest independent podcast network), close collaboration with its portfolio of radio stations, class leading business content created by Moneyweb and exclusive representation of podcasters and audio publishers such as South Africa’s most successful podcaster, MacG

This enormous ecosystem of curated content, started life as predominantly live, presenter-led music and speech based audio entertainment, that is now part of a much wider opportunity for advertisers.

It’s more and more obvious that the way in which media content is consumed has changed significantly. With the rise of new audio formats such as podcasts and targeted streaming radio options, coupled with their convergence with video and the internet, listeners and advertisers have more options than ever before. The ubiquity of smart phones (according to The Infinite Dial report 2022, 90% of South Africans over 15 years of age own a cell phone) and the fact that audio content is “device neutral”, means that people can listen to almost anything, anywhere, and at any time.

Unsurprisingly, more services and greater availability is leading to an increase in overall audio listening and research confirms that around 96% of  adults spend around 18% of all their media time, listening to some form of audio entertainment. This opens a world of possibilities for advertisers as according to The Radiocentre’s Hear and Now study, listeners choose audio to satisfy six very specific needs:

  • “Help me escape”
  • “Lift my mood”
  • “Amplify a moment”
  • “Provide social currency”
  • “Broaden my horizons”
  • “Keep me in the loop”.

The different features of broadcast radio and on-demand audio mean that they are suited to different need-states and play complementary roles in the listener’s life. Live radio offers human voice and human choice and retains the ability to surprise, while keeping us connected to the outside world. What makes on-demand audio services different, is the potential to listen to anything of specific interest. On-demand offers control and instant gratification and the ability for a more immersive experience. While radio helps people feel connected to the wider world, on-demand helps to connect them to their world.

We now know that millions of listeners have formed new habits for accessing their favourite stations and this will have a lasting effect, resulting in radio remaining a vibrant and exciting sector with many interesting new developments in the pipeline. Among these exciting advances are voice control moving into other locations (in-car and wearables); the rise of dynamic creative within digital audio ads to stream the most pertinent version of an ad to each individual listener and increasing use of 3D sound to deliver a more immersive audio advertising experience.

For a long time, United Stations has viewed radio as a platform…over-the-air, streaming, podcasting, live events, digital, etc. We package these multiple opportunities together so that advertisers can reach our listeners no matter which element of our platform they are using.

Right now we feel that we are only at the beginning of what is possible.

Written by Rivak Bunce, Managing Director of United Stations.

Mon, 31 Jan 2022 / Published in Audio Streaming, LATEST NEWS

The new year is in full swing, and the audio revolution is showing no signs of slowing down. Audio creation and consumption have both gone through major shifts over the last two years, as the world continues to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The face of audio is set to continue changing in 2022. Perhaps even faster than we might think. 

From the rise of unconventional new competitors, all the way to opportunities to listen to, repurpose and distribute an abundance of premium content from all over the world, there’s quite a bit going on. Mindful of this, it’s worth taking a look at the potential impact of these changes within the evolving audio landscape over the next twelve months.

Radio’s essential role during the pandemic

Although it might feel like the first lockdown in 2020 was a long time ago, in the grander scheme of things the pandemic has only been a part of daily life for a relatively short period. Radio has been one of the mediums that really stepped it up since then, diving in head first and keeping people entertained and informed in a period of high uncertainty, and with the threat of fake news around every corner.

This has contributed to the now booming face of audio — which has long been on the radar of tech companies and Silicon Valley startups — but is only just beginning to gain a lot of mainstream momentum. The widespread adoption of voice notes have played an important part in this too. Radio is the master of reinvention, but as powerful as it is, it is going to come under more pressure from a variety of new sources this year. This is especially true considering the revenue growth numbers many commercial radio stations are posting in what is a very delicate global economic climate.

The revised face of audio?

The changing face of audio might be better described as a revised face of audio. Media consumption habits are going through major shifts all over the world. In the US, the average adult consumes about 11 hours of media every day; 20.2% more than a decade ago. Mobile consumption is up to an average of a rather staggering 252 minutes a day.

Audio content creators and distributors are having to think out of the box to meet the changing needs of their audiences, in order to get a slice of the (attention) pie. These all have to be mindful that consumption habits are generation-specific too. Baby boomers still prefer traditional media, whereas GenZ’s are quite predictably glued to their mobile devices. Knowing who you’re speaking to matters, but it’s about more than just high quality content these days. How it gets delivered and how that slots into the life of the consumer can mean the difference between good engagement, or simply being passed over for something else.

New competition from non-traditional establishments

Not being passed over means keeping an eye on all the new competition popping up. These are increasingly coming from non-traditional establishments that spot the opportunity of poaching a traditional radio audience. A prime example of this is the Los Angeles Times; formerly a written publication that has had to pivot over the last decade to counter dwindling revenues in print media.

By creating The Times — a popular daily podcast that has great monetisation potential — they have successfully navigated some very murky waters. They haven’t changed what they have always done best: high-quality journalism. The difference now is that these in-studio interviews, detailed reports and more are all going to live online forever, with the potential to repurpose the content elsewhere at a later stage too. Other podcasts are knocking on the doors of the attention spans of traditional radio audiences too.

Wonder(y) and podcasting power

That’s not to say that radio isn’t ready to put up a good fight. In a bid to get ahead of the curve, African Media Entertainment recently signed a deal to partner with Wondery, the biggest independent podcast distributor in the world. The collaboration means that AME has the rights to promote some of the countless Wondery podcasts through subsidiaries, like Algoa FM and OFM.

The latest PWC Media Outlook estimates 19 million monthly podcast users in South Africa by 2024.  By working together, both radio and podcasts have the ability to transform the audio landscape even further. I have a particular love for podcasting, and thoroughly enjoy being a guest on insightful shows like The DOC and the GURU. From a content creators perspective, podcasting is fun, engaging and relatively uncomplicated to get going with. Done well, it can be alluring to listeners in the same way radio has always been. It will also be big business in the future.

A view towards the year ahead

It’s safe to say that 2022 will see more players entering an already competitive audio landscape. On top of new apps entering the market, streaming platforms like Spotify are gunning for radio listeners in a big way. The Swedish powerhouse has already launched its own morning show that is free to listen anytime from 7am on weekdays. It differentiates itself from traditional radio by (1) letting the listener consume the content on their own time, (2) by allowing them to skip stories they aren’t interested in, and (3) by playing music specifically curated to the individual.

Online audio is only going to continue to explode during the course of this year. More people are going to open their own stations, dabble with podcasting and explore new ways of finding niche audiences. Radio has got to do what it can to get ahead of it, or to collaborate with the platforms in a mutually beneficial way.

By having the training, skill and expertise to create better products than the average teenager in their bedroom, the industry does have a leg up in many ways. How it uses that to satisfy the ever changing habits and needs of audiences begs to be seen this year.

Who else is ready to give it their best shot?

Dave Tiltmann is group chief executive officer of African Media Entertainment.