Fascinating Results of Radio’s New Measuring Techniques

Although we buy radio advertising on behalf of some clients and are actually quite strong proponents of this media platform for certain types of campaigns (for example retail promotions) I certainly don’t claim to be an expert.

This week we were visited by Victoria Mann a lovely sales rep from SF station KFOG. She took us through us through some of the recent changes in radio listenership methodology and the impact that has had on station demographics…fascinating stuff.

Historically radio audience figures were drawn up by using selected panels recording their listening patterns in a diary format. This has now been replaced by an electronic surveillance device which actually picks up stations unique ID codes when people are really listening (as opposed to what they remembered listening to).

When analyzed by age groups what pops out are the following interesting facts (note this is for SF/Bay area stations only):

With the exception of some urban and dance stations the 18-24 age group is not really listening to the radio. Of those groups that are, it’s reasonable to suspect that most are concentrated in minority demographic groups given the skew to musical style (hip hop, urban and Latino stations score much higher than rock, indie and country styles)

The 6-17 year old age group is listening to many of the same stations as those with 25-44 age skew – effectively showing the data is collected for the kids at the same time as the parents. This raises the question as to whether kids are actually “listening” or are they just “exposed” to mum or dads radio choice – that I know is true for my kids.

That conservative talk radio stations are fundamentally now an “oldies” select with almost 70% of listeners over the age of 55.

That progressive talk radio is more solidly in the 35 – 54 age range so technically a more attractive demo for most advertisers despite lower listening figures than their political rivals.

That sports radio tends to skew male and over 35 (OK no shock there then)

That listening really is spread throughout the day part and is not limited to just the “drive” hours.

This new data really goes a long way to enabling media buyers to more accurately read between the lines and build even stronger radio buys.

The question to be raised here just like for print media – if our new generation is not consuming this media platform now, how will this effect radio in the long term. On the reverse side the data shows that radio is certainly a very valid media option and does still deserve it’s place at the table.

Dick Reed
Just Media, Inc.

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