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Drive Time Ain’t the Only Time

Bouvard spotlights a misperception among radio ad buyers

Quick: At what time of the day does most U.S. radio listening take place? It’s not the traditional drive time hours, despite what you might think.

That’s the topic of a new blog post by Pierre Bouvard of Westwood One, who says misperceptions among ad buyers about radio listening can hurt those companies.

[Read: Determining How Many Ads a Station Needs to Run to Get Results]

“Some advertisers only buy drive times thinking they are getting most of AM/FM radio’s audience,” he writes —understandable given radio’s strength in vehicles.

But in truth 39% of AM/FM radio listening occurs during drive times, “a stark difference in perceived and actual AM/FM radio listening.” Middays actually are the most listened to time period.

radio audience, radio listening statistics, drive time listening, Pierre Bouvard

The highest share of time spent among adults 25 to 54 is middays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with 26%, though the morning and afternoon drive times certainly are also strong. Bouvard notes that middays are helped by the fact that their defined time slot is five hours long.

“There is also a major disconnect about weekend listening. Advertisers perceive only 12% of all listening occurs during the weekend. The Nielsen reality is 21% — bigger than morning drive.”

He concludes that the common advertising rule to “only buy drive times” is actually myth that is “dangerous and harmful to advertiser sales growth,” missing 60% of the AM/FM radio audience, reducing reach and harming advertiser sales “lift.”

He also says that despite the pandemic, the share of AM/FM radio listening by daypart is very stable.

Read the post.