Rajar Q2 2013: Industry reaction
This week Rajar announced that 91% of the UK population - 48.3 million people aged 15+ - tuned in to their selected radio stations in the second quarter of 2013, up by approximately 1.5 million adults on Q2 2012. The total average number of weekly hours listened to radio for this quarter is 1.03 billion.
Here Newsline presents industry reaction on the latest results, with opinion from Carat UK, ZenithOptimedia Group UK, Gekko and adconnection.
Fresh off the acquisition of Absolute, Bauer Media are clearly the big winners emerging from the Q2 RAJAR figures, topping 14 million for the first time. Its success is in no small part down to its commitment to never standing still; consistently looking to innovate and place an emphasis on quality content.
Despite gloomy predictions that characterised the past few years, radio continues to confound critics as the medium continues to grow year on year at a remarkable pace. The transition to digital radio is also moving along rapidly and for 52.5% of the UK population now tuning in to digital radio each week, it proves that radio shouldn't be overlooked and should be increasingly important to media planners.
Just as television has evolved from a four-channel set-up and 25 million viewers tuning in on a Wednesday evening, the way in which listeners are consuming radio has significantly shifted. 24% now listen to the radio on their phone (a 34% increase YoY) and online listening has risen 31% YoY, topping 62 million hours. For a new generation, radio is more accessible (43% of 15-24 year olds listen via mobile) and emphasises the need for us to adapt to capitalise on these new listening habits.
While radio is clearly in rude health, the elephant in the room remains in that radio remains fairly distant from the agency world. With social platforms making large efforts to court brand advertisers, media owners need to innovate through collaboration. However, I'm inclined to feel the Bauer/Absolute deal will help lead this drive. Both brands have strove in recent times to push boundaries, experimenting with branded content and cross-platform services to great success.
The future for radio seems bright, but I feel there's a vast quantity of untapped potential for brands to explore.
After a disappointing set of Q1 results, today's Q2 results have surpassed expectations. There are many success stories being reported but it's good to look at what the longer term effect will be.
This is the first Rajar for Planet Rock under Bauer ownership. The station achieved record reach surpassing the 1 million mark for the first time. Reach is up 7.8% and hours up 16.1% YoY. The investment by Bauer into talent with Al Murray joining the weekend line up, has had immediate effects. This bodes well for the bigger Absolute acquisition by Bauer.
Absolute Radio has never been shy to invest in talent with Ronnie Wood and Frank Skinner two of the most notable signings over the past five years. Bauer will want to continue the quarterly growth of the main Absolute station on FM/AM.
The performances of the Absolute digital stations are interesting. Absolute 60s was the only one to show a drop in listeners YoY. It wouldn't be a surprise if Bauer swapped the smaller digital stations (60s & 70s) to put stations like Magic on to the digital multiplexes, after Magic's relatively poor performance in this Rajar period.
Whereas Bauer's growth has come from acquisitions, Global & TalkSPORT have achieved natural listener growth. TalkSPORT recorded one of its highest ever reach levels thanks to the end of the football season and its exclusive coverage of the British & Irish Lions games.
Global Radio saw listener growth from across its portfolio with Heart, Capital, Classic, LBC & XFM all showing growth YoY. Its emphasis should now be to increase listening hours. With the Capital Network only 155,000 listeners behind the Heart Network, the decision on which stations (if any - pending their appeal) are sold off comes ever more interesting.
The latest Rajar figures are incredibly significant for we have reached a moment many never thought would arrive: the official 'tipping point' for digital radio. Moreso, we've reached it nearly 18 months earlier than Ofcom's estimates which predicted November 2014 as the moment the UK would pass the 50% threshold.
With radio listening figures absolutely booming, no doubt this will prove the catalyst for the government to push ahead with the digital switchover - which this week also published a new report containing very strong hints the foundations are being laid for such a move already.
However, the steady upward trajectory of digital listening - or the consumption of radio via digital formats - should pique the interests of retailers, particularly with thoughts turning to the festive season in the not too distant future.
28 million people now listen to radio digitally - and increase of 16% YoY. If you couple that with the increase in listeners overall (91% of the population), we're seeing not just a transition but an actual growth in popularity. Thus, particularly as consumers discover new stations through different mediums (TV, in-car, mobile, desktop), there's a distinct opportunity for retailers to capitalise on this and drive product sales on the shop floor.
Perhaps the most important take out from this report is the substantial increase in radio listening on mobile devices, particularly amongst 15-24 year olds. This is key for advertisers, as consumers are now spending less time listening on static devices such as in the car or at home, but instead tend to listen whilst on the move.
Device planning is very important in ensuring that the audio is relevant for the audience and their frame of mind. Listening on mobile will mean audiences won't necessarily have the static response potential to go online and purchase products immediately. This means that the audio would need to adapt to mobile listening, with shorter more memorable responses but also tags to go through to the relevant mobile or web pages.
There is a clear requirement for strong radio brands across online, TV and mobile to capitalise on rapidly changing listening habits.
Whether the messaging is via audio or visual means, it is essential to consider the nuances of each platform when planning a campaign. Agencies need to think about different consumption - in terms of the time, place and state of mind of the customer - to ensure the right ad construct is used.