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Westwood One Slams NYC-Based Ad Buying Assumptions

Says there is no evidence to support “the myth that no one is driving and no one is listening to AM/FM radio”

“New Nielsen diary data reveals there was no audience impact from COVID-19.”

That’s according to Westwood One, which published a list of “myths surrounding coronavirus and AM/FM radio listening,” particularly hoping to change a mindset about radio that it finds prevalent among media people who live in New York City.

Westwood One warned that the ad community should not project New York’s COVID-19 experiences and media habits to the rest of America; it called this “marketing malpractice.”

It said that AM/FM radio retained 97% of prior listening volumes in markets 50–100. “There was only a –3% reduction in listening from February to April in markets ranked 50–100, dispelling New York City-based media planner and strategist beliefs that no one is listening to AM/FM radio.”

Westwood One, radio listenership
A graphic from the Westwood One post.

It also cited data from Geopath showing that outside of America’s largest cities, “miles traveled match or exceed prior year volumes” during the week of May 11, and that though miles traveled fell in late March and early April, they had “recovered significantly” since then. The company sought to challenge the perception that “the barren streets of New York City, America’s capital of media planning,” are representative of America.

Seeking to highlight the ongoing effectiveness of radio, Westwood One says Nielsen diary and PPM data suggest that “American AM/FM radio has retained 93% of pre-COVID-19 reach levels and 86% of pre-COVID-19 average quarter-hour audiences.”

It also said 91%+ of Americans are not reached by Pandora and Spotify, whereas an AM/FM radio buy reaches large portions of Pandora and Spotify audiences for free.

Read the blog post.