Want to reach Millennials? Tune in to radio. Really.

Becky Robertson 02/01/16 - 5:46 pm

Some clients are dubious when we recommend radio these days—particularly when they’re targeting a young audience. Do Millennials even use the car radio? Do they listen to local stations? Yes and yes.

According to a recent report by Nielsen, a whopping 93 percent of 18- to 34-year-old consumers tune in to AM/FM radio weekly. That’s significant on its own, but especially when compared to smartphones (82 percent) and TV (76 percent) and tablets (33 percent). It’s not just Millennials who are tuning in. 93 percent of all adults listen to radio each week. Radio is very much alive.

Boomers log in the most listening hours per week, followed by Gen X and Millennials. GenXers prefer the morning daypart (6-10 AM), while most Millennials are tuning in on the drive home (3-7PM). Boomers listen while they work, likely via streaming, 10-3 PM.

That help explains why Pandora purchased a top 40 station in South Dakota last year. The plan was announced as a means to offset royalty costs, by mixing land and digital. But it makes even greater sense for the music streaming platform to use a blended portfolio to offer advertisers greater market access.

So what’s the consumer appeal? From a content perspective, it’s music mostly. 59 percent of teens and Millennials use radio to discover new artists and music. Boomers’ taste skews more toward talk radio. More broadly speaking, radio’s reigning popularity has everything to do with reliability, convenience and intimacy. The personalities ride along with you to work, to the grocery store and to your mom’s house. They seamlessly become a part of the day’s narrative. You may even grow to trust them, and their station by association.

Therein lies the power of radio. Oh, and it’s free too. There’s no barrier to entry as all cars come equipped with a complimentary membership.

So, we continue to recommend radio for a wide range of clients—from healthcare and financial services to nonprofit and retail organizations. Bottom line: we buy where our target audience can be found. And radio is still very much a mass media channel, stretching across entire DMAs.

Radio is best used to generate awareness, and when layered with value-adds, like streaming, live testimonials and interviews, it can be effective in driving action. We’ve had a lot of success with value-adds to promote brands, particularly healthcare clients. One negotiation involved a DJ who agreed to have a colonoscopy and discuss the procedure on air. Who better to convince consumers to have an exam than the guy whom you trust to inform and entertain you every weekday drive? It’s seamless, not salesy.

Rarely do we recommend radio as a stand-alone vehicle. Like most channels, it works hardest when layered with other media, like streaming where a video or banner add can connect users more deliberately to a website or other call to action.

The advertising industry has been predicting the death of radio since MTV launched in the 80s. Video didn’t kill the radio star. We’ll keep tuning in along with everyone else. 

Take a look at our portfolio for examples of some of our latest campaigns that include radio. 

Blog Category: Generational

2 thoughts on “Want to reach Millennials? Tune in to radio. Really.”

  1. Great Insights! You spoke
    Great Insights! You spoke about layering radio with other channels. Shazam has tried to position itself as the cross over device, turning the unidirectional channel of radio, into a direct call to action tool. It can turn a passive listening experience into a customized interaction. But Shazam is far from seamless and has many hurtles. The more seamless and customized the user experience the more powerful the branding.

  2. Agreed! Local radio IMO will
    Agreed! Local radio IMO will never die as the go-to medium as the source for local news, events, and entertainment. No doubt digital is penetrating all markets and industries, but you can access your local station there as well. We all have a natural inclination to stay in touch with what’s happening in our local communities and local radio is that quickest way to do so with the press of a button. We may venture away to our own flavors of consuming radio programming through digital, but if your local station does a good job of delivering immaculate content and information it’ll be hard to stay away long. Great article!

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