Radio reaches more Americans each week than any other media form, reports Nielsen. The claim puts some serious weight behind the idea that radio is a strong lead generation engine. So we took a closer look at the numbers.
About 92% of people are reached each week by radio, which is more than TV (87.5%), smartphones (80.5%), and PC (60.75%), Nielsen’s Audio Today 2018 report found. When segregated generationally, weekly reach remains above 90% across all groups. Those are appealing numbers for marketers, but listener- ship doesn’t necessarily equate to an effective ad platform. Nielsen’s measure of “frequency” is a better indicator.
Frequency is a measure of how exposed an individual listener is, on average, to a particular ad campaign. And it can vary wildly from one market to the next. In New York, the No. 1 ranked radio market in the country, average listeners are exposed to any given ad campaign about 13 times. But in New Orleans, a less popular market, the frequency is only four.
Those numbers are important, because as a study Nielsen ran in Australia shows, with an increase in frequency typically comes an increase in resonance (another Nielsen metric). Resonance is simply a measure of how well an ad campaign resonates with its audience. Nielsen researchers found that in increasing frequency from four to over 10 times, ad campaign awareness rose by nearly 20%. During Fall 2017, the country’s top 15 radio markets—NYC, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, DC, Atlanta, Philly, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, and Minneapolis-St.Paul—all had a frequency of 13.
Radio networks, which account for the vast majority of listenership (95%), are quick to show off these numbers. But one network in particular, Westwood One-—the largest network in the U.S.—went a step further to prove radio’s lead gen capabilities by partnering with Nielsen to measure ROI of a national radio campaign over three months, including cross referencing listener data with credit and debit card spending. The study found that $21 of incremental sales was generated for every $1 spent on an ad, and furthermore that with increased frequency came increased sales. The network is confident enough in the power of radio to now officially guarantee its advertisers’ ROI.