Click the index below to browse through a variety of topics covering commonly-asked questions about Radio and its extraordinary ability to build brands and motivate consumers.

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Radio has the ability to reach small business owners and self-employed workers.

  • Every week, Radio reaches 93% of small business owners.1
  • Every week, Radio reaches 92% of Adults 18+ who are self-employed.1

Radio drives awareness, relevance and consideration for B2B advertisers.

  • Based on an analysis of 16 B2B campaigns:
    • Radio increased ad awareness by 128% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2
    • Radio increased brand relevance by 64% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2
    • Radio increased brand consideration by 37% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2

B2B professional/managerial adults trust radio.

  • 27% more likely to trust radio than the U.S. population to trust Radio.3

Radio is a source for education as well as entertainment for B2B professionals/managers:

  • 53% attribute radio to putting them in a good mood.4
  • 49% stated radio keeps them informed/up-to-date.4
  • 43% stated radio is pure entertainment.4
  • 41% said radio makes them think.4
  • 34% indicated that radio is a good escape.4
  • 33% said radio is a good source for learning.4
  • 22% identified radio for giving them good ideas.4

Radio is an aid for many business owners:

  • 45% stated that radio keeps them informed and up to date.5
  • 30% attribute radio for learning.5
  • 21% believe radio gives them good ideas.5

Radio drives online activity for B2B and consumer campaigns.

Federal Contractor Builds Awareness with Radio

  • Background:
    • A Federal Government Contractor that provides innovative technology services was experiencing branding and awareness challenges.
  • Goals:
    • Increase awareness of their services, drive contracts, etc.
  • Solution:
    • A multi-platform campaign featuring spots voiced by the company leader that provided personal story-telling and insights on the brand, services and results they provide to their customer base.
  • Results:
    • 2MM+ people within the target audience were reached.
    • The Federal Government Contractor saw increases in brand buzz, awareness, etc.
    • The campaign has been renewed for 3 consecutive years. (Read full case study here.)

Sources: 1) Scarborough USA+ 2019 Release 1 Jan 2018 - May 2019; 2) radioGAUGE from the RAB U.K [strongly agree scores]; 3) GfK MRI Doublebase 2019; Adults 18+ who are business-to-business professional/managerial; 4) GfK MRI Doublebase 2019; Adults 18+ who are business-to-business professional/managerial; 5) GfK MRI Doublebase 2019; Adults 18+ who are self-employed in their own business

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An analysis by Media Dynamics Inc., of varied weight level schedules illustrates that the greater the number of stations included within a buy will deliver higher reach and lower frequency when compared to those same weight levels purchased on fewer stations.

The analysis also showed that as weight levels increased, reach levels also increased. The same was also true as additional stations were included within the buy at those same increased weight levels.

It is important to determine the goal of the overall campaign. The goal will determine the structure of the plan. Simply stated: A reach campaign should include numerous stations over an extended period of time. If the goal is to increase frequency, then the converse is true: Reduce the number of stations and weeks and increase the number of spots placed on the stations purchased.

Estimated Reach
By Multiple GRP, Week and Station Levels


3-Station Buy

5-Station Buy

7-Station Buy

10-Station Buy


1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.






























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Radio remains relevant in today's world of time-starved consumers. As the original mobile and social medium, it provides programming content meeting the entertainment needs of people according to their demography, geography, ethnography, etc., via its thousands of commercial radio stations, streams, multicasts and podcasts.

Radio is ubiquitous, reaching consumers on-air, online, on-site and on demand whether they are at home, at work or in their car. It is a passive medium allowing consumers to multi-task and listen while they work or play in today's world.

It is a reach medium, delivering messages 24/7 to consumers personally, one-on-one, in an attentive environment. It provides information as it reaches consumers closest to their time of purchase, as they drive to or from work, or even during a lunch break. When used synergistically with other media, it increases brand awareness, brand recall, and an advertiser's ROI. In various studies, it has also proven to increase website visitation and purchase likelihood.

Radio's core strength continues to be the power of words and sound. With its human voice to convince, it can be used as a branding medium. Advertisers continue to use radio personality endorsements to build trust and drive business, with these same personalities often providing personal experiences with the brand, on-air mentions and authentic chatter within their shows.

Radio is resilient. Its accessibility continues to expand with technology. Innovations in this same technology are both enhancing and expanding radio's ability to provide content to listeners whenever, wherever they want it on-air, online, or on demand. Today's technologies can increase and enhance the consumer's radio experience thru text messaging, mobile applications, visual experiences, time shifted listening via podcasts, and even on smart speaker devices.

There have been studies that prove radio's ability to complement other media and drive brand awareness, as well as increase return-on-ad spend. Additionally, as today's advertisers and agencies begin to focus on attribution, radio can now quantify its impact on campaigns. Various organizations can now pinpoint shifts in behavior with digital technology.

As the top source for music discovery and audio entertainment, radio has a dominant role among listeners of all generations and age groups. Radio and the personalities on those stations are companions, something that keeps the listener company, elevates their mood, informs them and makes them think and laugh.

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Which commercial length is most effective? This is a difficult question to answer, as spot length must be dictated by the goal of the message. Allowing an ad budget to dictate the length of the ad is the most common mistake made by advertisers. Never try to get by with :15s and mentions when :30s or :60s are called for to adequately convey your message. 

If your budget is limited, reduce Reach instead of cutting the length of your ad, or buy a less expensive time of day or advertise on a smaller station. Ad messages must always be exactly as long as they need to be or nothing else will matter. 

Following are some parameters to keep in mind when determining what length spot you need to create. Additionally, keep in mind that for some ad categories, commercial length may be pre-determined based on boilerplate disclaimers required by law. 

:60 Ads

  • For complex messages to avoid leaving doubts and questions
  • To include specific details to help persuade - more believable than generalities
  • For a business category that's new and not easily understood - to create realization of need before selling your solution
  • For highly entertaining ads geared to inspire consumers to "like you better" - effective for generic businesses and commodities

:30 Ads

  • To make an easy-to-understand offer for a product or service that is clearly understood
  • To make a single point in an ad

:15 Ads

  • To convey an incredibly powerful, simple message
  • To reinforce simple name recognition to make customers think of your name when your are the sole advertiser in your business category

Mentions (:10 or less)

  • Use frequently to generate top-of-mind awareness when selling a commodity in a crowded market arena
  • To add additional frequency to a schedule that is delivering barely sufficient frequency of your :60 or :30 message

Source: "Radio Ads: How Long Should They Be?" by Roy Williams, founder and president of The Wizard of Ads

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The commercial length and effectiveness can be impacted by various elements such as the number of brand mentions or ideas within the ad and even by the ad's format. According to Radio Recall Research, LLC, ad formats depicting a "Slice of Life" have the greatest recall across both :60 second and :30 second ads -- 22% and nearly 19%, respectively, Interview/Testimonials ranked second across both lengths. Announcer/Sing & Sell formatted commercials had the lowest recall scores with :60 and :30 second spots -- nearly 16% and 14%, respectively.


Length Announcer/ Sing & Sell Slice of Life Interview/Testimony Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 13.6 18.9 17.3 15.2
Percent of Ads 64 18 18 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 15.7 22.4 20.6 19
Percent of Ads 44 33 23 100

The number of brand mentions contained within the traditional length commercials also has a positive effect on recall. Commercials with less than 3 brand mentions scored the lowest in contrast to those that had 6-10 mentions. Typical spots that contained anywhere from 4-5 mentions delivered 19% for 60-second spots and 17% for 30-second spots.

Brand Mentions

Length Few Typical Many Total
(1-3) (4-5) (6-10)
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 12.4 17.3 15.8 15.5
Percent of Ads 31 52 17 100
(1-4) (5-7) (8-10)
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 17.7 18.6 19.4 18.6
Percent of Ads 24 49 27 100

There is also a direct correlation between the number of ideas contained within a commercial and the recall score. Commercials that limited the ideas to no more than 3-5 delivered the greatest average recall scores of nearly 20% and 17% for :60 and :30 second spots, respectively. Spots that contained 6-10 ideas had the poorest recall.


Length 1 or 2 3 to 5 6 to 10 Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 14.9 16.6 12.6 15.5
Percent of Ads 15 64 21 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 17.6 19.9 16.2 18.6
Percent of Ads 13 61 26 100

60-second spots have a higher recall than 30-second spots; they also normally have more words than 30-second spots. The number of words in a commercial correlates more to recall than the length of the commercial.
If two commercials are exact in length, the commercial with the greater amount of words will have a higher recall.


Length Few Typical Many Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 13 14.4 17.5 14.7
Percent of Ads 17 68 15 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 16.8 18.4 22.3 19.8
Percent of Ads 9 53 38 100

There are two features that are used often in radio commercials: Humor and music. In Radio Recall Research's analysis of over 2500 different radio commercials, humor and type of music proved inconclusive. Specifically, the use of humor provided little help.
RRR suggests that radio commercials that do contain humor should be pretested on target audiences and determine whether or not the target found the spots funny.
Music appears to have no direct impact on recall. The most prevalent format is the "sing and sell" format that performs like an announcement.
Music should not absorb time that can be used to present the advertiser's message, says RRR. Inclusion of music should be limited to background, jingles which emphasize the brand, or gaining listeners' attention.
Source: Radio Recall Research, LLC.
"Characteristics of Radio Commercials And Their Recall Effectiveness"

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As the audio landscape broadens, connecting with listeners’ ears is more important than ever.  It is important for advertisers and marketers to not only reach listeners but also understand the impact and effectiveness of various ad lengths.

So, is there a difference in effectiveness between a short or long form ad? The answer? It depends.

  • Which length impacts brand, store traffic and online lift?
    • A seasoning brand used both short and long form ads. While both versions showed brand lift increases, the short form was more effective.
    • An online fare and accommodations travel site used three lengths: 10, 15 and 30-seconds. The 15 and 30-second ads were effective at driving online traffic. The 10-second ad was more effective at driving more people to use the site/convert.
  • Do different age groups respond equally to various ad lengths?
    • Ad length effectiveness does not vary by age group. The effectiveness is determined by the brand/campaign.
      • A snack company used both 10 and 30-second ads and each ad delivered a return on ad spend. The 10-second spot drove a higher ROI against 35-49 year olds and it also increased awareness among 18-34 year olds.
  • Are 30-second spots effective?
    • As noted in another FAQ, longer length ads should be used when the product is understood and has a single brief message.
    • An insurance company used both 10 and 30-second ads promoting its services. While the 10-second ad initiated requests for more information, it was the 30-second ad that drove greater customer acquisitions.

Source: Integrating Short-Form Audio Ads Into Your Strategy, Pandora, 2019

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Smart speakers are amplifying the audio experience as more Americans are adding them to their households annually.

  • Smart speaker awareness and ownership
    • An estimated 78% of P12+ are aware of smart speakers in 2020, up from 69% in 2017.1
    • 27% of P12+ own a smart speaker in 2020, which has grown significantly from 7% in 2017.1
    • 91% of radio listeners 18+ currently own a smart speaker.4
    • In 2020, 45% of P12+ own one smart speaker, 23% own two smart speakers and 32% own three or more.1
    • Amazon Prime and Gmail users are more likely to be smart speaker owners.7
  • Smart speaker ownership by age and brand
    • By brand
      • Amazon Alexa - 21%1
      • Google Home - 11%1
      • Apple HomePod - 1%1
    • By age
      • Gen Z (13-17) - 11%3
      • Millennials (18-34) - 29%3
      • Gen X (35-54) - 38%3
      • Boomers (55+) - 22% 3
  • Smart speaker streaming and usage
    • Streaming AM/FM radio on a smart speaker has grown to nearly 20% of total radio streaming.2
    • 27% of adults 18+ who frequently use their smart speakers are listening to music from a radio station.5
    • 38.2% of adults 18+ stream music on their smart speaker daily, 70% monthly and 83% have ever tried streaming music from their smart speaker.7
    • Music related questions are the most common at 54.9% of users 18+.7
    • 69% of smart speaker owners 18+ use the device daily.6
    • 55% on consumers agree that they’re listening to more audio since getting a smart speaker.6
  • Consumers are integrating smart speakers into their routines
    • 74% while doing household chores.6
    • 66% while cooking.6
    • 59% while getting ready for their day.6
    • 45% listen to podcasts/audiobook.8
    • 28% ask for “how-to” instructions.7
  • Smart speaker placement
    • Most smart speakers (55%) are placed in the living room/family room of households.5
      • Bedroom(s) - 46%5
      • Kitchen - 42%5
      • Den/office - 14%5
  • Top five smart speaker requests
    • Play music6
    • Get the weather6
    • Answer a general question6
    • Set a timer/alarm6
    • Check the time6
  • Smart speaker owners who are radio listeners have done the following:
    • 84% listened to live radio.9
    • 77% purchased/ordered a product or service.9
    • 75% obtained weather, news, sports or other information.9
    • 76% made a phone call.9
    • 74% listened to music via streaming service.9
    • 74% listened to an audiobook or podcast.9
    • 73% played a game or set a timer/alarm.9
  • Qualities that consumers value in smart speakers
    • 67% understanding them when they speak.7
    • 55% sound quality.7
    • 51% how much it can do.7
    • 45% how fast it responds.7

Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2020, Edison Research and Triton Digital; 2) Triton Digital Webcast Metrics, Family and Devices Report, 2019; 3) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q1-4 2018; 4) Scarborough USA+ 2019 Release 1 Total Jan 2018 - May 2019; 5) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2020; 6) NPR, Edison Research, The Smart Audio Report, 2019; 7) Voicebot, Voicify, Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, March 2019; 9) GfK MRI, Spring 2019

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A podcast is a series of on-demand audio files that focus on a certain topic or have an overall theme. They are free to listeners and can be downloaded online, via smartphones, computers or tablets. Thousands of podcasts are produced weekly and listeners can subscribe to their favorite podcasts to get notified when a new episode becomes available.

  • 212 million (75%) P12+ are familiar with audio podcasts, while 155 million (55%) have ever listened to a podcast.1
    • 74% of African Americans and 52% of Hispanics 12+ are familiar with podcasts.7
    • 37% of P12+ listened to podcasts in the last month - nearly double from 17% in 2015.1
      • 24% listened in the last week.1
    • 33% of African Americans and 24% of Hispanics listened in the last month.7
      • 17% of African Americans and 18% of Hispanics listened in the last week.7
  • People 12+ spend an average of six hours and 39 minutes a week listening to podcasts.1
    • One in four now listen to podcasts weekly, dominated by millennials at 43% and Gen Z at 37%.2
  • Weekly podcast listeners tune in on their smartphones the most (80%), followed by desktop/laptop computers (35%).2
  • In 2020, 55% of P12+ had ever listened to a podcast, an all-time high - increasing from 44% in 2018, 40% in 2017 and 36% in 2016.1
  • Podcast listeners listen to multiple podcasts each week - an average of six per week.1
    • Listen to one podcast per week - 11%1
    • Listen to two podcasts weekly - 21%1
    • Listen to three podcasts weekly - 19%1
    • Listen to four-five podcasts weekly - 19%1
    • Listen to six-10 podcasts weekly - 18%1
    • Listen to 11 or more podcasts weekly - 12%1
  • 32% of weekly podcast listeners 18+ said their source for discovering new podcasts was an ad heard on the radio.3
  • Sources that U.S. Latino monthly listeners use to discover new podcasts:9
    • Social media posts - 67%9
    • Recommendations from friends/family - 63%9
    • Searching the internet - 62%9
    • Advertisements on other audio programs - 38%9
    • Recommendations on AM/FM radio - 36%9
  • 44% of A18+ said the most popular location to listen to a sports-related podcast via AM/FM radio was at home, while 29% said in the car.4
  • According to Edison Research, podcast listeners’ share of time spent listening to AM/FM radio was 24% in 2019.5
  • Podcast listener demographics A18+6
    • Average age - 39
    • Average HH Income - $96,500
    • Male - 57%
    • Femal - 43%
    • White - 67%
    • Hispanic - 15%
    • Black - 9%
    • Other (Asian, non-Hispanic, etc.) - 8%
    • Use Radio Weekly - 90%
    • Use Satellite Radio Weekly - 16%
  • Of those adults 18+ who have listened to a podcast in the last 30 days8:
    • 66% are homeowners
    • 63% work full-time jobs
    • 52% have received a bachelor’s or graduate degree
    • 51% are married
    • 44% have a HH size of three-four
    • 33% are a parent with a child living in the HH
  • 49% of America's 12-34-year-olds listened to podcasts in the last month.2
    • 40% of adults 35-54 listened to podcasts last month, while only 22% of adults 55+ listened.1
  • 36% of U.S. Latinos have ever listened to a podcast that was mostly English while 24% have ever listened to a podcast that was mostly in Spanish.9
    Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2020 - Edison Research/Triton Digital; 2) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2020; 3) Statista; MarketingCharts; Westwood One, 2018; 4) Statista; Morning Consult, March 2020; 5) Edison Research Share of Ear 2019; 6) Nielsen Audio Today 2019; 7) The Infinite Dial 2020 - Edison Research/Triton Digital A Look at African Americans & Hispanics; 8) MRI, Simmons Doublebase 2019; 9) Edison Research, Latino Podcast Listener Report 

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Brands seek celebrity or radio personality endorsers because they are well-known in their communities and listeners feel a certain bond with radio hosts. 
Radio, with its human voice to convince, can be used to persuade and influence listeners.

  • 59% of A18+ listen to AM/FM radio because of the DJs/Hosts/Shows.1
    • 61% female1
    • 56% male1
  • 6 out of 10 A18+ say radio personalities are the main reason why they listen.1
  • 1 in 2 radio listeners have a favorite radio personality.2

Radio listeners have a strong personal connection with radio station personalities. 87% of radio listeners know any personal detail about their favorite on-air radio personalities/DJs.2

  • 75% of radio listeners know about the marital status of their favorite radio personality.2
  • 68% are knowledgeable about the DJ’s home life.2
  • 53% of listeners know the hobbies & interests of their favorite radio personality.2

Listeners have an emotional connection with on-air personalities.

  • 81% consider DJ’s a friend, family member or an acquaintance.2
  • 59% of listeners follow their favorite radio personality on social media.2
  • 87% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that AM/FM personalities make them laugh.3
  • 64% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that if their personality went to another station, they’d probably follow them.3
  • 61% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that their favorite AM/FM personality makes them think.3

Since listeners feel connected with radio personalities, their statements about brands and product recommendations are assumed to be based on personal preferences.

  • 83% of listeners value and trust their favorite personality’s opinions.2
  • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended on-air.2
  • 78% of listeners talk to their friends about what they hear from their favorite radio personality.2

As the original social media influences, DJ endorsements work well to build trust, drive business and website traffic for advertisers.

  • Bertucci’s restaurant used radio personality live endorsements to kick off a successful campaign with year over year increases in sales and traffic. *

Radio and DJ endorsements are great at reaching a large number of consumers and getting them to your location, and can be customized by brand:

  • Authentic chatter inside their shows
  • Personal experiences conveyed to listeners
  • Via radio personality or specific radio show apps
  • Social media engagement
  • On-air mentions/billboards/promos
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews

*Visit www.rab.com for additional case studies.

Sources: 1) Jacobs Techsurvey, 2020; 2) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019: 3) Vision Critical / MARU Nation Study, November 2017

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The U.S. 12+ population base increased from 308.6 million in 2010 to 329.4 million in 2020 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This has been a key factor in radio’s ability to grow the AM/FM radio audience base by over 9 million listeners over that same time span, from 240.0 million to 249.1 million.

With the plethora of new media choices, radio still offers near universal coverage of the broad 12+ demo, underscoring radio’s appeal to listeners young and old.

(Source: Nielsen, RADAR 106 & 144, September 2010 & March 2020, Monday-Sunday 24-Hour Weekly Cume Estimate)

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An important element of any campaign is to ensure that it is effective.
Frequency is a key component.

  • Ad exposure within a purchase cycle matters.1
    • 3x is ideal.
      • Three exposures at minimum within a purchase cycle over a 4-8-week period will deliver the greatest effectiveness.
    • There is data that supports that two exposures are sufficient while one exposure may be effective in only the rarest of cases.
    • Three or more exposures will continue to build effectiveness but at a slower pace (and will not diminish impact).
  • 3+ frequency influences online and in-store behavior.2
    • Based upon a Nielsen study, consumers exposed and recalled 3+ radio ads (vs. those who did not recall):
      • 21% increase in store visits
      • 75% increase in website visits
      • 159% increase in click-throughs
      • 41% increase in additional product information
      • 100% increase in product in-store purchase
      • 300% increase in retailer product web purchase
  • How to determine the right frequency level.3
    • Use 2+ frequency:
      • Maintain awareness and attitude for a known campaign with unique and newsworthy messaging.
      • Competitive advertising should be at a minimum.
      • Highly recognized brand with low brand loyalty for competitive products/services.
    • Use 4+ frequency:
      • To create/increase awareness and strengthen current brand/product attitudes.
      • Ideal for a new campaign and/or a simple message.
      • Competitive advertising should be moderate.
    • Use 6+ frequency:
      • To create attitudes and for complex messages used in a competitive market and/or a low interest category/product.

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Calculating Reach vs Frequency
When gearing up for a campaign, it’s essential to be able to communicate to an advertiser how many people will hear their advertisement and how often throughout the radio campaign. Here are the definitions and formulas you need to give provide this information.

  • Average Quarter-Hour Persons (AQH Persons)
    • Average number of people listening to a particular station for at least 5 minutes during a 15-minute period.2
  • Average Quarter-Hour Ratings (AQH Ratings)
    • Average Quarter-Hour Persons estimate expressed as a percentage of the population being measured.2

How to Calculate:

AQH Persons ÷ Population = AQH Rating %2

  • Gross Impressions (GIs)
    • Sum of Average Quarter-Hour Persons audience for all spots in an ad schedule; total number of times a commercial will be heard.1

How to Calculate:

AQH Persons x # of commercials in ad schedule = GIs%1

  • Gross Rating Points (GRPs)
    • Sum of all rating points achieved for a particular spot schedule.1

How to Calculate:

AQH Rating x # of commercials in ad schedule = GRPs1

  • Reach
    • The number of persons reached or exposed to a spot in any given ad schedule.3

How to Calculate:

GRP's (%) ÷ Frequency = Reach (%)3

  • Frequency
    • The average number of times a person or household is exposed to a radio spot.2

How to Calculate:

Gross Impressions ÷ Net Reach = Frequency2

For additional radio terminology, click here
For additional radio formulas, click here

Sources: 1) AAAA, RAB, Universal Spot Radio Buying and Selling Terms; 2) Nielsen Terminology and Definitions for Nielsen Radio Diary Service; 3) Fortune-Media Planning & Placement, Media 101

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  • Streaming
    • An estimated 192MM persons 12+ listened to online audio in the last month. 1
      • Offering listeners exclusive audio and video content like in-studio interviews, concerts, on-demand video.
      • Ability to personalize a playlist based on listener's music preference or mood.
  • Mobile Apps
    • Content available across multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and in-dash infotainment systems.
  • Infinite breadth for signals and content through online radio and HD Radio platforms:
    • Specialized niche channels (24-hour weather/traffic/news/stock info, etc.).
    • Seasonal and focused programming (Financial, Holiday, Real Estate, etc.).
  • Expanded commerce opportunities
    • Instantaneous ownership of audio content (music, advertising messages/couponing, news programming, etc.).
  • Listener influenced programming:
    • Break or bust for new artists -- allow listeners the ability to control fame or flame.
    • Citizen journalism.
  • HD Radio
    • Improved audio and expanded content.
    • Interactive/data/visual/time shifting.
    • On-demand features.
    • Real-time traffic on navigation systems.
    • There are about 2,400 HD radio stations broadcasting in the U.S. 2
    • More than 50 million HD Radio receivers are on the road. 2
      • 51% of all new cars sold in 2018 came with factory installed HD radio receivers.

Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2020; 2) HD Radio - Xperi for RAB, 2019

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The average consumer spends nearly 19 working days commuting every year with a daily commute average of 35 minutes.1 Despite newer technologies evolving as options for in-car entertainment, on-the-go consumers still prefer radio as their top in-car selection.

According to The Infinite Dial 2020:

  • 82% of A18+ that have driven/ridden in a car past month have ever used AM/FM radio in their primary car.
  • 50% of A18+ used AM/FM radio the most often when driving or riding in a car in the past month.
  • 18% of A18+ have driven/ridden in a car that has in-dash information and entertainment system.
  • In 2020, 9% of A18+ have Apple CarPlay in their vehicles while 5% have Android Auto.
  • 45% of people 12+ listen to online audio in their car streamed through a cell phone.

Radio has the greatest Share of Ear In-Car.2

  • 88% of adults use broadcast radio in their primary vehicle.2
  • Broadcast radio and its streams has the highest percent of in-car audio use versus other audio options.2

Out-of-home listening is mostly in vehicles.

  • Percentages of when A18+ are listening to radio in-car
    • 79% - Weekends3
    • 71% - Weekday Drive Times3
    • 63% - Working Weekday3

According to Jacobs Media Techsurvey 2020:

  • In-Car listening on a regular radio dominates home station listing during an average weekday.
    • 69% of A18+ say their main reason for listening to AM/FM radio in the car is because it’s the easiest.
      • Of that 69%, women (72%) are more likely to listen in the car than men (65%).
  • More than half of listeners say all or most of their AM/FM radio listening is in-car.
    • 53% of A18+ say all or most of their AM/FM radio listening happens in-car.
      • 32% of A18+ said most
      • 20% of A 18+ said all
  • 70% of Gen Z and 68% of Millennials say that all of most of their AM/FM radio listening is in-car. 
  • AM/FM radio has a 59% share of in-car media usage - greater than satellite radio at 17%, on an average weekday.

Sources: 1) OnePoll; Valvoline, March 2019; 2) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q3 2019; 3) Nielsen Audio Today 2019 

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  • Radio has the human voice to convince
    • 81% of consumers agree that a “human voice can establish a connection like nothing else can.”1  
    • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended by their favorite radio personality.1
  • Radio builds brands
    • In a radio campaign, two breakfast products grew +7% and +12% in brand awareness.6
      • 13% increase in parent company brand purchases.6
  • Radio creative matters
    • Radio creative is a key component to branding
      • A powerful way to create an emotion is through sonic branding - using sounds to differentiate brands.3
      • Sonic branding is critical to creative and creative is vital to driving sales.3
      • A Nielsen study showed that creative ads drive an almost 50% sales lift.3
    • Brand mentions are important
      • An insurance company mentioned their brand name in the first few seconds of ad; 2x in :15 spots and 3x in :30 spots.3
        • Their branding structure generated +11% likeability, +10% optimism, +7% trustworthiness and +6% purchase intent.3
    • Voices, tone and music influence purchase intent
      • A VERITONIC auto ad study found that the top-ranking ads have a noticeable female presence with a prominent speaking role .3
      • Serious spots can influence behavior, creating a 10% increase in purchase intent when compared to humorous ads (6.2%).4
      • Ads with music saw a 146% increase in purchase intent post-exposure versus ads with no music.4
      • Ads with sonic identity showed a 58% increase in purchase intent.4
      • Ads with a jingle experienced a 44% increase in purchase intent.4
  • Radio delivers a strong return on investment (ROI)
    • Average radio payback per investment is $10:$1.7
      • In a study, a parent brand saw an $11.96 return on ad spend per $1, while their men’s personal care brand saw a $1.23 return on ad spend.5
      • The parent brand gained an 8% increase in sales among households where men were exposed to radio.5
  • It is the originator of experiential marketing
    • Radio station-produced remotes or events allow for sampling opportunities, increasing brand awareness

Sources: 1) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019; 3) Westwood One, Cumulus Media VERITONIC, Do Disclaimers Ruin Tier Two Auto Ads, May 2018; 4) Westwood One; VERITONIC; Testing of US-focused award winners at Cannes Lions, Radio Mercury Award finalists and winners 2018; 5) Westwood One, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Groundbreaking Research Proves AM/FM Radio Delivers Strong ROI for Personal Care Brand, 2018; 6) Westwood One, Maru/Vision Critical, New Breakfast Brand Successfully Uses AM/FM Radio to Build Awareness and Drive Purchases, 2019; 7) Nielsen Studies 2014-2016

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Definitions as per the American Marketing Association:

  • Continuous Media Pattern:
    A timing pattern used in a media plan whereby the advertising messages are scheduled continuously throughout the time period covered by the media plan.
  • Flighting:
    An advertising continuity or timing pattern in which advertising messages are scheduled to run during intervals of time that are separated by periods in which no advertising messages appear for the advertised item. Any period of time during which the messages are appearing is called a flight.
  • Pulsing:
    An advertising timing or continuity pattern in which there is noted variation of media spending in the media schedule. There is some spending during all periods of the schedule, but there are periods in which the spending is notably heavier than others. This approach stands in contrast to a continuous media pattern in which equal amounts of spending are allocated to all time periods of the schedule.

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This list has been compiled solely to provide sources of monitoring services available for Radio in response to frequent requests for this information and in no way implies RAB endorsement of any specific company.

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  • Sales Seasonality:
    Companies with seasonal products are more likely to choose flight scheduling to concentrate their advertising for the peak sales season. Some foods such as milk and toothpaste lack a seasonal pattern. Everyday products may be best served using the continuity approach. Use monthly sales to identify (brand) seasonal fluctuations, which can serve as a guideline for allocating more money to high-sales months and less to low-sales months.
  • Product Purchase Cycle:
    Fast-moving consumer goods such as bread, soft drinks and toilet paper probably require continuous weekly advertising in a competitive market to constantly reinforce brand awareness and influence frequently-made purchase decisions. Less frequently purchased products such as carpet cleaner or floor polisher may only need advertising a few times a year.

    Family vacations may require early planning so purchase decisions are made in advance. Travel industry advertisers will schedule their ads months before the summer. Destination ads have to be in sync with the decision making timing, versus actual consumption time.

    New product launches normally require initial heavy advertising to create brand awareness and interest. The launch period may last from a few months to a year. Note that personal influence in the form of word-of-mouth or brand visbility in life and media coverage will play a role in accelerating the adoption of a new brand. Personal influence and market force are "unplanned" messages, which may play an important role in new product launches.

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  • Radio drives store traffic
    • Analysis of 1.5M spots across 10 brands showed that radio ads drove a 22% increase in store traffic.2
      • Specifically, radio ads drove a 32% increase among automotive, 32% for beauty retailers, 23% for quick service restaurants and 7% for home improvement.2
  • Radio drives search
    • An analysis of over 75K physicians’ spots showed that radio drove an 8% increase in online traffic for new users.3
    • Across 18K legal services spots, radio drove a 10% increase in new users online.4
      • Radio delivered an average of 141 new users per day.4
    • A study across 8 brands and 2,157 ads revealed that radio drove a 29% increase in Google searches.1
  • Radio improves TV’s reach
    • Shifting dollars from TV to radio increases overall campaign reach.
      • A film company experienced a 70% increase in reach from TV only (43%); radio and TV (73%).6
      • A pharmaceutical brand experienced a 22% increase in reach from TV only (77%); radio and TV (94%).6
      • A home furnishing online retailer experienced a 59% increase in reach from TV only (51%); radio and TV (81%).6
  • Radio in-dash display ads drive traffic
    • 75% of those who remembered the radio ads said they had visited the retailer.9
    • 84% said they intended on visiting the retailer.9
  • Radio personalities influence behavior
    • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended on-air by their favorite radio personality.8
    • A restaurant incorporated DJ endorsements as part of a campaign, which resulted in increased store traffic as well as increase in sales.7

Sources: 1) Media Monitors, Sequent Partners, In4mation Insights, RAB, Radio Drives Search, 2017; 2) Dial Report & RAB, Radio Drives Store Traffic, 2018; 3) NumericOwl, RAB Radio Drives Search For Physicians, 2019; 4) NumericOwl, RAB, Radio Drives Life Insurance Search, 2019; 6) Westwood One, Nielsen, Westwood One Adds Nielsen Media Impact Media Planning Tool to its ROI Guarantee Audio Insights Platform, 2018; 7) Norbella for Bertucci’s case study; 8) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019; 9) MARU/Vision Critical In-car Study, September 2018

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  • Radio increases TV’s reach
    • In a TV-only campaign, 5% of the budget was shifted to radio.1
      • Increased overall impressions by 20%.1
      • Increased reach by 15%.1
      • With amplified frequency (6+) of ads, radio increased the campaign tune-in viewing by 80%.1
    • Nielsen’s analysis of a major wireless company’s campaign showed increased reach, particularly with younger demos.5
      • The TV ads reached about 58% of P18-34. Radio reached an additional 20%, producing an +35 increase in overall audience reach.5
  • Radio reaches light TV viewers
    • Light and non-TV viewers are hard to reach.4
      • 44% of Americans represent only 10% of total TV commercial impressions.4
      • The solution lies in radio, as it reaches 92% of light TV viewers making its addition to TV-only plans effective.4
  • Radio influences behavior and response
    • A study of over 18K life insurance radio ads generated a 10% increase among new users online.2
      • The ads delivered an average of 141 new web visitors daily.2
    • In an auto study, radio increased brand perception by 70% versus unexposed radio listeners.3
      • 78% said the dealership had a great selection of cars.3
      • 72% said the auto company offers competitive pricing.3
      • 72% said that they have a higher likelihood to recommend the dealership.3
      • 70% said they trust that dealership.3
      • 67% said they offer attractive financing terms.3
      • 47% said that they favor the dealership more.3
  • Radio’s appeal is that it’s local
    • Radio informs listeners on traffic, weather and events.6
    • 88% of listeners agree/strongly agree that radio’s primary advantage is its local feel.6
    • 35% of listeners listen to local radio to be updated on emergencies.6
    • 38% listen to be informed on what’s going on locally.6
    • 39% listen to stay updated on news.6
  • Radio connects emotionally, creating a receptive environment
    • 83% value and trust their favorite radio personality’s opinions.7
    • 81% of listeners consider DJ’s a friend, family member or acquaintance.7
    • 50% of listeners feel a connection with radio.6
    • 42% say the radio keeps them company.6
    • 34% of listeners listen to get in a better mood.6
    • 27% of listeners listen to the radio to escape pressures of everyday life6

Source: 1)Westwood One, Nielsen, Case Study: AM/FM Radio Generates Incremental Reach and Amplified Frequency for TV Tune-in Campaign, May 2018; 2) NumericOwl, RAB, Radio Drives Life Insurance Search, 2019 3) Nielsen, SBCA, The Value of SoCal Radio to the Auto Industry, 2019; 4) Westwood One, Nielsen, AM/FM Radio Makes Your TV Better 2018; 5) Nielsen PPM Custom Analysis, July 1-28, 2019 / P6+ unique audience exposed to a major wireless campaign on TV & Radio; 6) Jacobs Media, Tech Survey 2020; 7) Katz Radio Group, Our Media, 2019

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  • The average spot break is 3.5 minutes in length.
  • On average, radio holds more than 93% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks.
    • One-Minute Break - 100%
    • Two-Minute Break - 99%
    • Three-Minute Break - 96%
    • Four Minute Break - 92%
    • Five Minute Break - 87%
    • Six+ Minute Break - 85%
  • Commercial breaks during morning drive deliver an average of 97% of the lead-in audience.
  • Music stations deliver 90% of the lead-in audience among 35 to 64 year olds.
  • Audience levels remain high on spoken word stations and deliver 97% of the lead-in audience among 18 to 34 year olds.
  • Audience levels are high during commercial breaks among Black and Hispanic listeners and on ethnic-targeted music stations.
    • Radio delivers 94% of its lead-in audience among Black listeners 6+.
    • Radio delivers 92% of its lead-in audience among Hispanic listeners 6+.
  • Commercial break audience delivery is consistent throughout the year.
  • Implications for Advertisers:
    • Advertisers should recognize that radio is a commercial-friendly medium.
    • Advertisers should not be overly concerned about their position in radio commercial breaks.
Source: What Happens When the Spots Come On, 2011 Edition - Nielsen Audio, Media Monitors, and Coleman Insights

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  • Radio is an effective medium
    • The top choice for audio and entertainment - at home, in-car and on the go.
  • Radio’s reach
    • Radio reaches 90% of Americans 18+ on a weekly basis.1
    • Radio continues to be the top choice for ad-supported audio among age groups.2
      • 18-34: 59%
      • 18-49: 68%
      • 25-54: 74%
      • 35-64: 82%
  • Listeners spend time with radio
    • The average listener 18+ spends 12 hours and 53 minutes weekly with radio.1
      • Radio listeners tune in approximately 1 hour and 41 minutes daily.1
    • Teens 12-17 are tuning into radio 6 hours and 2 minutes weekly.1
  • Listeners value radio - for news, entertainment and companionship
    • 60% of radio listeners cite radio as their source for music.4
    • 73% of listeners say that their favorite station is an important part of their music streaming experience.7
    • 35% of listeners say that radio keeps them informed of emergencies.5
    • Radio keeps listeners informed about local news (39%).5
    • 34% state radio improves their mood.5
  • Radio is available across platforms and devices
    • 169M P12+ have listened to online audio in the past month.6
    • Americans 12+ listened to online audio approximately 15 hours and 12 minutes in the last week.6
    • Radio is the top device listened to in the car at 59% of all drivers.5
    • 69% of radio listeners say that it’s easy to listen to while in-car.5
  • Radio builds awareness among heavy radio listeners
    • In a pharmaceutical case study, 31% of listeners were 3X more likely to remember the brand’s advertisement when the ad played.8
    • In March 2019, brand awareness was at 17% and grew 25% by December 2019.8
      • In the same timeframe, the likelihood to act after hearing the pharmaceutical ad on the radio increased from 14% to 40%.8
    • Average radio payback per investment is $10:$1.9
      • A men’s personal care brand saw a $1.23 return on ad spend while the parent brand saw an $11.96 return on ad spend among radio listening households.10
    • When 30% of a 1.3M ad budget was shifted from TV to radio, the campaign had the highest reach (74.2%) versus TV only (68.4%).11
  • Radio personalities connect with and influence listeners
    • 1 in 2 listeners have a favorite radio personality whom they’ve been listening to for an average of 8 years.12
      • Listeners (78%) share what they hear from their favorite personality with their family and friends.12
      • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended by their favorite radio personality.12
      • 83% of radio listeners value and trust their favorite personalities’ opinions.12
  • Radio drives online search
    • An analysis of 75,000 physician radio ads exhibited an impact on web traffic.13
      • New user lift grew 8%.13
      • Physicians’ websites gained a total of 1.04M new users from radio ads.13
      • There was an average on 13.7 new website users per airing.13
      • An average of 415 new users were on physicians’ websites per day.13

Sources: 1) The Nielsen Total Audience Report, April 2020;  2) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q3 2019; 4) NuVoodoo 2019; FM listeners 2+ hrs.; 5) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2020; 6) Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2020; 7) Bridge Ratings 2019; 8) Westwood One; MARU/Matchbox National Study, 2019; 9) Nielsen Studies 2014-2016; 10) Westwood One, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Groundbreaking Research Proves AM/FM Radio Delivers Strong ROI for Personal Care Brand, 2018; 11) Local Nielsen Media Impact 2018; 12) Katz Radio Group, Our Media, 2019; 13) NumericOwl, RAB Radio Drives Search For Physicians, 2019

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  • Optimum Effective Scheduling (OES) is a concept created to reach the majority of a radio station’s listeners 3 or more times by distributing ads evenly throughout a week.
    Message retention and recall begins after three exposures. This is referred to as effective reach. The principle behind OES is concentration and repetition.1 An OES schedule generally consists of 35-60 commercials per week.1

    Three-Step OES Formula:1

      • Calculate turnover ratio for a broad demographic, Mon-Sun 6am-12mid.1
        • Turnover ratio is an index of how long a station’s audience spends with them and is driven by format.1

    How to Calculate:

    Radio Station Cume Audience ÷ Average Quarter-Hour Audience = Turnover Ratio


      • Determine the number of spots per week.

    How to Calculate:

    Turnover Ratio x 3.29 = Spots Per Week


      • Run the spots with even distribution across all days and dayparts, Mon-Sun 6am-12mid.1
    • OES concentration and repetition
      • The key to OES is concentration and a campaign can be concentrated in the number of weeks, days, dayparts and the number of stations.
        • Weeks - If an advertiser only has a budget for a 12-spot week campaign for the month - put this entire budget into one week of a month for a single 48-spot OES week.1
        • Days - concentrate spots in 2 or 3 days. This would be effective for a one-day sale or event.1
        • Dayparts - Concentrate spots into a single daypart. If a business is trying to grow their breakfast traffic, concentrating spots in the morning is important.1
        • Stations - reduce the number of stations being used for the campaign, concentrate spots on one station for the highest return.1

    Source: 1) Radio Advertising’s Missing Ingredient: The Optimum Effective Scheduling System, Steve Marx and Pierre Bouvard

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