Readers: We see a bright future for digital radio
Upbeat on its prospects for growth among listeners and advertisers
December 1, 2016
By the editors of Media Life
This is one in a number of stories on digital radio in Media Life’s ongoing series.
Digital radio has been around since the earliest days of the internet, but now it appears to have reached a tipping point.
It’s gained critical mass as medium, directly challenging traditional radio for listeners and increasingly for ad dollars.
Digital radio is never going to replace traditional radio as the medium of choice for listeners and advertisers. But it will find its place alongside it and see steady, solid growth as a companion media buy for advertisers.
Perhaps more importantly, digital radio will greatly expand our very definition of radio well beyond what it is now: talk and music, mostly listened to in cars.
It will become all things audio, listened to on a range of devices and in all sorts of locations–car, couch, sidewalk, hiking trail–and providing listeners a far wider range of content, music and talk, of course, but also the best storytelling of TV and movies, the dramas and comedies, tailored to the ear.
Those are some of the findings of a recent Media Life survey of media planners and buyers on the future of digital radio.
Here are some of the top findings. We’ll be publishing more in the coming weeks.
Our first question to readers was just how much growth they expected to see for digital radio. They were given three answers to choose from:
Over two thirds, 68 percent, chose: “I see solid to healthy growth. There is a place for digital alongside traditional radio as yet another set of options to reach listeners. But it’s not going to replace traditional radio anytime soon.”
Ten percent chose: “Very big. Spending will surge as advertisers come to appreciate its effectiveness in driving sales.”
The remaining 21 percent chose: “I see little growth, and far less than the hype would have you believe. We’ve been through all this before with other media that were supposed to be the next big thing and became the next small thing.”
Forms of digital radio that will see the most growth
We saw no surprises. Tops was streaming by radio stations at 67 percent, followed by music services like Spotify and Apple Music at 59 percent.
Right behind came podcasts at 53 percent, then internet radio (Pandora) at 49 percent.
Attitudes of clients toward digital radio
But among the most interesting findings of the survey was how clients regarded digital radio.
Here was the question we posed: “When you are talking with clients about digital radio versus traditional radio, what reasons do they give for not shifting ad dollars to digital? Feel free to choose more than one answer. ”
The top choice by far was: “General lack of knowledge of the various digital offerings” at 55 percent.
Next, at 37 percent, came: “Don’t believe digital options are as effective in reaching their target audiences.”
Then “Don’t believe any digital options are as effective as traditional radio in driving sales” at 32 percent.
Other options saw much lower response rates.
How media people view podcasts as an advertising vehicle
We asked whether podcasts held any appeal with clients.
Just over 27 percent said they were actively exploring podcast advertising with their clients.
The largest share, 41 percent, said they were not doing any podcast advertising but thought it held promise.
Just 21 percent felt podcast advertising held little promise as an advertising medium.
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