AM/FM Consumption Found To Be Way Higher Than Anticipated


    Between OTA radio, streaming audio, and television, we live in a world inundated by media consumption – but just how much do we actually take in every day? Ask anyone and the answer would likely be high, but new research shows we’re still underestimating the true amount.

    Advertiser Perceptions, a leading organization in advertiser and agency sentiment, revealed significant discrepancies between the perceived and actual media habits of American consumers in a study from February 2023. The study compared data from Nielsen’s Total Audience Report and a survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions involving 305 marketers and agencies.

    The data showed that while media decision-makers estimated consumers spend only 7% of their daily media time with AM/FM radio, the actual figure was 40% higher at 15% – the widest spread from reality.  Similarly, the actual time spent by Americans on apps or web on smartphones (22%), TV/internet-connected devices (17%), and live or time-shifted TV (33%) was found to be higher than the estimates.

    (Courtesy Cumulus Media/Westwood One)

    So what about screen time?

    In our seemingly social media obsessed world, agencies and advertisers surprisingly overestimate time spent by Americans with tablets and internet on a computer. They estimated daily media time spent with tablets and internet on a computer at 12% and 22% respectively, while actual figures were 7% in both cases.

    The disconnection between perception and reality can be attributed to the tendency of brands to focus on emerging media platforms. This can distort the perceived significance of these platforms. As a result, there’s a call for marketers and agencies to step out of their own media habits, or take the “me out of media”, in order to accurately understand today’s consumer media behaviors.

    Similar mismatches between advertiser perceptions and reality are observed worldwide. In Canada, a study by IPSOS for ThinkTV found agencies and advertisers significantly overestimated consumer use of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Spotify, subscription streaming video, and OTT TV.

    More can be read in this week’s Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Blog.


    1. Well now, we have a disconnect, don’t we? The pro-radio folks think the media buyers are wrong. The media buyers are offended. IF radio’s fine, then let’s look at the advertiser’s results when using radio vs. digital. If the media buyers are right-their “self-consumed” experience will overrule the latest pro radio report. What IS the bottom line here?

    2. As a media buyer, I’m offended reading comments from radio execs who likely can’t figure out how to reset their Apple Music or Spotify passwords, if they even have an account as do the majority of their listeners. Old, out-of-touch, and wholly disconnected from your rapidly shrinking under 40 audiences, your comments are just not a good look.

    3. There is a quote in the Cumulus/Westwood One blog from several industry people who believe that the buyers are indeed biased by their own experiences, as Kevin Fodor said.

      Colin Kinsella (former CEO of Havas Media North America): “The biggest risk for AM/FM radio is the 26-year-old planner who lives in New York or Chicago and does not commute by car and does not listen to AM/FM radio and thus does not think anyone else listens to AM/FM radio.”

      I wonder if a similar bias against over-55 listeners — even though that number has gotten huge in recent years — is what prevents the agencies from revisiting that demo and seeing how much $$$ there is on table in that demographic. Let’s face it … a lot of those ad buyers probably utter the phrase “okay, Boomer” a lot.


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