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Some Things Change but Some Things Stay the Same

September 24, 2015

Advertising is the vehicle that transports a product, service, or cause to the respective audience. The current marketplace is filled with competition and a plethora of messages competing for the consumer’s limited attention. In addition to brands competing for limited attention, media vehicles are competing for limited advertising spending dollars in the marketplace. In this crowded arena, it is important to know which media vehicle will not only bring in the most target consumers, but which medium can convert those reached target consumers into revenue and generate a reasonable return on investment.

According to Roy Greenslade’s October 2014 article titled “ABC figures show papers’ efforts to stem circulation decline,” ten major publications listed in his study (including but not limited to The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Express, and The Guardian) have seen a steady decline annually between the years of 2008 and 2014. In addition to the erosion of the newspaper business, the television business is also facing similar struggles, particularly among the young demographic.

According to the June 30th, 2015 article published by the Marketing Charts Staff, Nielsen’s most recent study indicates that Americans aged 18-24 watched a weekly average of about 18 hours of traditional TV during Q1 2015. That represents a substantial year-over-year drop of about 3 hours and 45 minutes per week. According to the same article, 18-24 year-olds’ television viewing hours have dropped by 8 hours and 30 minutes per week during the years of 2011 and 2015, with the sharpest drop occurring during the past year.

While print media and television media have to fight the changes in their audience landscape, one thing has managed to stay relatively the same – the power of radio. In an article published by Inside Radio titled “As Traditional Falters, Radio Rises,” according to Nielsen’s latest Audience Report used in the article, 243 million Americans, or 91% of consumers 12 and older, tune into radio weekly. Radio also performs well in the younger 18-34 demographic (the demographic that television has been consistently losing), with 91.3% of Adults 18-34 tuning in to radio weekly.

Radio’s unique ability to maintain and grow its audience provides great value to advertisers, allowing them an excellent opportunity to communicate their brand message to prospective consumers. According to the March 25th, 2014 Ad Age article, titled “What Medium Scores Highest ROI? It May Be Radio,” Nielsen Catalina commissioned a study that combined data from Nielsen’s newly acquired radio-audience measurement business with shopper-card data from Catalina. What the study showed was that, after looking at ten brands that advertised on iHeartMedia radio stations, these brands averaged a six- dollar sales lift for every dollar spent on radio advertising. Leslie Wood, Chief Research Officer at Nielsen Catalina, even noted that during the course of the study radio had a particularly strong effect on African American and Hispanic consumers.


While the world of media is constantly changing, the advantages of radio remain the same. Some of radio’s advantages include:

  • Radio can reach people in nearly any location.
  • Most listeners are extremely loyal to the station and the personalities.
  • Most of radio listening occurs outside of the home where consumer purchases are made.
  • Radio has the potential to reach a higher total audience, more consistently, including a younger audience.
  • Radio is cheaper, thus creating a higher probability for ROI.

-L.D. Williams Jr, Research Specialist

Information from the following sources was used for this article: