Urban Contemporary Tapping into the Brand Power of Radio
May 19, 2016
According to the InsideRadio article, “Inside Story: Music Only One Key To Urban Contemporary Rise,” in the summer of 2015, the Urban Contemporary format broke records for listening when the format peaked with a 3.7 share of the 6+ audience. The gains that the Urban Contemporary format experienced were not exclusive to the 6+ demo as the format experienced growth in the 25-54 demo as well. In the 25-54 demo, the growth was consistent throughout the 2016 calendar year, starting with a 4.2 in January to a 4.4 in March. According to the March 2016 National PPM Format Trends, Urban Contemporary finished fourth overall behind Top 40, Country, and Hot AC.
The growth for Urban Contemporary from summer 2015 into 2016 has been alarming, consistent, and strong. The format’s growth would drive anyone to ask the logical question, why such explosive growth?
According to Radio One Senior Vice President of Programming Content Jay Stevens, “Much of this success is solid programming, good music, and allowing personalities to ‘breathe’ on the air. And now you can hear music and DJs, while watching them in real time on Facebook live and Periscope. Add to that streaming on our apps, NextRadio, and terrestrial radios, which all help to make the format stronger.”
Boogie D, PD of Radio’s One HOT 104.1 (WHHL-FM), also emphasizes the importance of consciously looking to engage to connect with the listening audience. “We know [the listeners are] on their phones, tablets, and connected cars, so it’s not about playing music. What we do on the air has to connect [fully] to our website, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. If you don’t connect with listeners, they don’t connect to our radio stations.”
While programmers understand the value of making an effort to connect to the listening audience, the challenge for Urban Contemporary radio broadcasters is to leverage their brand power to monetize its large and growing audience.
Radio should look to borrow some ideas from the digital advertising community. According to The New York Times, “Advertisers and publishers are now looking for ways to make online ads less like ads. Many in the industry are even changing the way they talk about ads.” Indeed, publishers are increasingly embracing advertisers, urging them to join in on content creation.
At Research Director, Inc., we are firm believers in the power of radio, and that includes the brand power of radio. The medium of radio can be a unique collaborator and content creator for advertisers. Radio offers a variety of strategies to maximize profits. For example, unique, live, and local segments with trusted personalities is a strategy; the ability to drive loyal listeners to social media in order to keep people engaged on and off the air is a strategy; and the ability to leverage a blend of all of these strengths to sell products and services to a growing audience without telling the audience they are being sold to is a strategy. In essence, that is not just the power of radio, it is the brand power of radio.
-L.D.Williams Jr, Research Specialist