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.