Audio Streamers Are Big Fans Of AM/FM

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(By Bob McCurdy) Laying out the 2018 audio landscape for clients as it really is and not how some think it is or wish it to be might be is an extremely important part of every radio account executive’s job. While everyone is surely entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts, so it is in our collective best interest to communicate audio “reality.”

What follows are some newly mined metrics from the latest Scarborough that sheds light on the audio habits of the listeners to several major audio streaming services and some not so major. Six markets — Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Tampa — were included in the following charts and there is little reason to believe that they are not reflective of the U.S. in general. So as you review the following, keep firmly in mind there is no reason to consider that they are not a reasonable surrogate for your market, if you market happens to not be one of these six.

From the chart below, it is clear that listeners to audio streaming services remain major fans of AM/FM radio, tuning in 1.5-2.0 hours daily. A takeaway from this chart is that commercial campaigns on AM/FM radio alone can effectively reach Pandora, Spotify, et al listeners. While AM/FM radio can reach digital audio streamers, the opposite is not true due to the limited reach of these digital streaming services, as we will see in a following chart.

Further confirming audio streamers’ satisfaction with AM/FM is the fact that virtually all that utilize one of the following five services, also tune to AM/FM radio weekly.

Further advancing the “audio streamers being big fans of AM/FM radio” story is the fact that these individuals are more likely than the average radio listener to be amongst the heaviest of listeners to AM/FM radio (P1’s).

Finally, the weekly reach of these five streaming audio services were quantified in the chart below. Such figures are rarely seen due to the manner in which digital audio streaming listening metrics are typically reported (monthly).

Weekly reach, not monthly reach, is really the key metric for an advertiser to consider when evaluating any audio source, as weekly usage suggests a more consistent exposure to the programming (commercials), while monthly usage connotes a general indifference to the programming, which results in incidental and sporadic exposure to the commercials.

From an advertising standpoint, the weekly reach metric, not monthly, is critical, as much advertising focuses on end-of-week, limited-time offers and call-to-action messaging.  Large reach is important to the success of these campaigns, making monthly reach figures virtually meaningless as someone tuning in several times per month is of little value to any advertiser as they are unlikely to hear the commercial messaging.

As has been said, big sales require big reach. Compare AM/FM’s weekly reach across these six markets of 91% and daily reach of 63% to the Pandora six-market average of 25% weekly reach and Spotify’s 11.7% weekly reach. 2.5x as many people tune to AM/FM daily in these markets than tune to Pandora weekly, and 5.3x as many people tune to AM/FM radio in these six markets daily that tune to Spotify weekly.


The takeaways from this exercise are:

  • Audio streamers rank among AM/FM radio’s heaviest listeners.
  • More than nine out of 10 of these audio streamers tune to AM/FM each week.
  • Streaming audio listeners are big fans of AM/FM radio tuning in 1.5-2.0 hours/day.
  • Streamers weekly reach is dwarfed by AM/FM radio’s daily reach.
  • AM/FM radio continues to dominate the ears of the American consumer.

Based on the data above, it would be wise for any advertiser to consider the addition of any digital streaming audio options to their advertising campaigns only after AM/FM’s ROI producing impact has been effectively and fully unleashed.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]

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