Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Radio's Listening Surge Can Help Business Bounce Back

Last week, Nielsen released the May 2021 Portable People Meter data for the top 48 markets in the U.S. It was yet another month of strong AM/FM radio audience growth amidst a surge in worker commutes and auto traffic, axccording to this week's Westwood One Blog.

In PPM markets, AM/FM radio’s average quarter-hour audience for May 2021 was the highest since the pandemic started, notching a 97% recovery index versus March 2020. Since the beginning of 2021, AM/FM radio’s AQH is up +13%.

AM/FM radio’s reach recovery index was a 98, a tie for the highest point since the pandemic began.

In markets outside of the top 50, AM/FM radio audiences saw little COVID erosion.

In markets outside the top 50 measured by the personal diary, Nielsen reports that AM/FM radio audiences are incredibly stable having experienced very slight reach loses in Spring 2020, which immediately recovered. February-March-April 2021 AM/FM radio reach in the diary markets is identical to the same period a year ago.

What is behind AM/FM radio’s audience growth? Consumer movement is up

Americans are getting out of the house and on the move. A just-released consumer tracking study from GroupM’s Mindshare found 34% of Americans plan to spend more time outside and 21% plan to spend less time online during 2021. “[These findings] bode well for media consumed out-of-home, especially outdoor, place-based media and radio,” according to MediaPost’s Joe Mandese.

Consumers spending time outdoors plus growth in vehicular traffic and miles traveled means increases in AM/FM radio time spent. With an 87% share of ad-supported audio in the car, AM/FM radio is the queen of the road.

AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of America’s recovery

In response to consumer movement and AM/FM radio consumption growing, advertisers are following suit. According to Standard Media Index, the U.S. firm that looks at 94% of national ad spending by major agencies in the U.S., May 2021 saw significant ad spend across media types. AM/FM radio saw the greatest growth, up +122% year-over-year for May.

Key takeaways:

  • AM/FM radio’s average quarter-hour audience in the PPM markets grew to the highest point, a 97% recovery index. This is the strongest AQH performance since the pandemic began.
  • AM/FM radio’s audience reach for May 2021 was the highest since the pandemic started, notching a 98% recovery index versus March 2020.
  • Geopath reports May 2021 miles traveled have returned to 2019 base line.
  • Apple Maps car trip search requests in May 2021 were +45% greater than before the pandemic, marking their highest levels in two years.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, 66% of workers are now commuting full time and 18% are commuting some days.
  • COVID concern is subsiding to 70% below previous highs according to Google search trends.
  • Moody’s Analytics back-to-normal economic index rises to 88%.
  • Across many different purchase categories, podcast listeners and AM/FM radio listeners show stronger purchase intentions than heavy TV viewers.

Click here to view a video of the key findings.

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