How the listening experience is evolving 

James Digby, Head of Digital Audio, Bauer Media

There’s been much celebration in the world of radio lately – commercial radio continues to dominate reaching a record 36.1 million listeners weekly and 1.7 million more people a week than BBC Radio (RAJAR Q1 2019). The industry is more vibrant and attractive to content creators, listeners and advertisers than ever before and the beginning of the year marked the eighth consecutive year of revenue growth of over £700 million.

Digital listening in radio continued to break records with Bauer Media smashing the 70% digital mark for the first time and the industry averaging at 56.4% listening from a digital device (RAJAR Q1 2019). As digital audio devices have evolved, we have banked on a digital future, actively focusing on online audio by delivering world-class content that our listeners can access however they want. With the explosion of popularity in smart speakers and Deloitte projecting the industry will be worth £5.6 billion in 2019, the opportunities for audiences and revenue growth are immense.

As IAB’s Spring Listening Britain analysis outlines, 28.5 million of us are listening to online audio throughout the week – it is paramount that we are harnessing our capability for a world in which voice leads search and discovery on new, voice-activated devices. We are in such a strong position to innovate on these devices – with brands that act as a beacon of quality – so that when listeners go to voice search, we are on their lips as first choice for entertainment, music and companionship.

Radio is no longer just a broadcast medium – we know digital is good for radio. Suddenly people have learned how to use their smart speaker and the radio industry has learned how to create the right kind of skills. The listening experience has evolved in the last year so that you can ask what track you are listening to and about show times and presenters – extending choice, sound quality and the ability to consume content via a variety of devices. Our dominance in digital share goes hand in hand with our ability to be more innovative than ever before in product, content and advertising and growing our digital brand portfolio with Scala Radio and Country Hits Radio.

It goes without saying, the rise in technological developments in online audio means there is greater competition from other on-demand platforms. We know that podcasting is just one element of the digital audio ecosystem and IAB’s robust online audio figures reiterate the enduring popularity of the medium that is all at once personal and engaging – perfectly positioned to meet any media brief for commercial partners.

Radio has proven itself to be the ultimate adaptive medium offering a trusted and brand-safe environment for advertisers, with the ability to build brands long-term, as demonstrated by the Radiocentre’s Ebiquity research. The key to radio’s enduring relationship with digital will be understanding future consumer trends and capitalising on our ability to diversify in a highly digital, fragmented and personalised landscape.

Want to find out more?

This blog piece was written as part of the IAB UK’s Listening Britain series. See more findings, research and opinions here.

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