MBPT Spotlight: Digital Remains the Rage, But Traditional Radio Is Still A Solid Mass Reach Vehicle

When it comes to media advertising coverage, radio has seemingly become something of a forgotten medium, with digital getting the lion’s share of the ink and traditional television always in the mix. But several recent reports by Nielsen offer up data aimed at reminding marketers that tuning into radio advertising still offers plenty of benefits.

The data finds that 243 million Americans, or 92% of the population listen to radio each week. The average AM/FM radio listener listens to 60 hours, 42 minutes per month, second only to traditional TV among all media consumed by Americans. Nielsen data also shows that African-Americans on average listen to 62 hours, 51 minutes of radio per month, while Hispanics average 60 hours, 7 minutes per month.

In terms of education, 31.4% of radio listeners have attended college and 31.6% are college graduates. That compares to 23.1% of traditional TV viewers who graduated from college. Demo comparisons are fairly uniform: 12.8% are in the 19-21 group; 17.4% among 25-34-year olds; another 17.4% among the 35-44 group; 19% among those 45-54; 16.4% among those 55-64; and 17% are over 65.

Within those age groups, however, radio listening is very high. Using the current definitions of the different age groups, 92% of millennials (ages 12-34) listen to radio each week, 95% of gen-xers (35-49), 94% of baby boomers (50-64) and 86% of adults 65-plus, defined in the Nielsen report as the “silent generation” listen to radio weekly.

The weekly numbers for Hispanics and African-American listeners are equally high, with 94% of Hispanics listening to radio each week, and 92% of African-Americans doing so. The average amount of time all Americans listen to radio each week is about two-and-a-half hours per day—again, a strong factor for advertisers to consider.

Nielsen’s latest Cross-Platform Report ,which was released last month, found a majority of people are listening to radio outside the home. Other than from midnight to 5 a.m. when 59% of radio listeners are listening from home, the morning hours Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. is when the most people (43% of listeners) are listening from home. Between 7 p.m. and midnight, 36% are listening from home, but during the hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, home listeners make up about 25%.

Reaching through radio can be key for certain types of advertisers like fast food restaurants, apparel retailers and even auto dealers. One Nielsen/Arbitron report cites Scarborough research numbers that show millennial radio listeners are 42% more likely to buy a car within the next year than the general population and millennial radio listeners are 46% more likely to own a smartphone.

The Scarborough data also finds that 94% of radio listeners go to fast food restaurants more than 10 times a month and 92% visit convenience stores, while 91% bought clothing in the past three months. And 70% of radio listeners are homeowners and 70% are also employed.