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Radio vs. Streaming? Leaders Push Against Client Perceptions

Expect to hear these data points being cited a lot as industry leaders play up radio’s strengths as a “mass reach” vehicle

U.S. radio companies have been trying to do a better job of marketing themselves and telling their story. Now — seeking to push back against what they see as serious misperceptions among advertisers about radio’s reach — several leading groups are highlighting a study that finds the audience for AM/FM radio “greatly exceeds listening to streaming services.”

The study by Advertiser Perceptions was commissioned by several groups and the Radio Advertising Bureau. It sought to compare advertisers’ perceptions of American audio consumption versus actual usage. It used an online study of 327 advertising decision-makers in May, and combined findings with data from the quarterly Nielsen “Total Audience Report” and Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” study on audio use.

According to a summary, advertisers estimated that only 64% of Americans are reached by AM/FM — yet Nielsen puts radio’s weekly reach at 93%. Further, “advertisers and agencies perceive the audience share of Pandora and Spotify to be nearly the same as AM/FM,” whereas AM/FM’s audience share is nine times that of Pandora and 17 times that of Spotify, according to the summary.

“Nielsen data also shows that radio reaches 93% of millennials — 22% more millennials than TV. TV misses one in four millennials.” Radio World has invited comment from Pandora and Spotify and will report any reactions.

Expect to hear these data points being cited a lot by radio sales execs in coming months. Many industry leaders want to play up radio’s strengths as a “mass reach” vehicle as they continue efforts to shift the cultural dialogue about radio as a dying legacy medium and about streaming services as all that’s new and relevant.

Cumulus/Westwood One Chief Marketing Officer Pierre Bouvard commented in a blog post and added, “It’s on us … The American radio industry must spread the reality of our amazing reach to the advertising community.” The company posted slides making these points more visually, such as the one shown above. Cumulus|Westwood One also created a hashtag to extend the message, #RadiosRealReach.

Among those highlighting the findings were iHeartMedia Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman, Cumulus/Westwood One CEO Lew Dickey and CBS Radio President Andre Fernandez. Dickey was quoted saying advertisers and agencies “drastically underestimate” the reach of AM/FM; he called the study “the first conclusive evidence of the major gap in actual and imagined performance of AM/FM and streaming outlets.”

Other sponsoring companies included Alpha Media, Beasley Media Group, Cox Media Group, Emmis Communications, Entercom, Greater Media, Hubbard Radio, Radio One, Townsquare Media and Univision Radio.