September 2, 2020
An Open Letter to Radio on Labor Day (5th edition),
If radio ever wanted to field a nationwide research project to test the relationship between listening and employment, COVID-19 has provided that opportunity.
The results validate what we’ve known to be true, listening is driven by employed consumers who commute to work and have daily listening habits to give.
This year has tested the mettle of AM/FM radio in a myriad of ways during this run up to the 100th anniversary of commercial broadcasting, which began on Election Night in Pittsburgh with KDKA-AM delivering election results (Harding won in a landslide).
As we prepare for another election and the next 100 years, radio continues to answer the call for our advertisers and the communities we serve.
At the onset of the pandemic in March, workers experienced a decade‘s worth of disruption and innovation overnight.
While companies across industries evaluate what trends will continue long after a vaccine has been administered, the resilience and evolution of AM/FM radio is on full display.
Despite listening being impacted due to shelter in place orders, as local economies have reopened and more workers have resumed their commute, radio is bouncing back.
Consumption trends that began before COVID-19 have also continued in earnest this year.
Take wireless ear buds. As more people are seeking out their favorite stations on a mobile device, Nielsen is working to ensure that listening on headphones is being fully captured in their audience estimates, including new initiatives set to become currency in OCT PPM.
In addition, as radio continues to unlock the potential of digital streaming, lower overall listening levels brought on by COVID-19 have helped spotlight stations that are seeing meaningful AQH contributions from their streams.
Leveraging these insights and opportunities will continue to be valuable in the months and years ahead, especially as segments of the workforce continue to find themselves without a daily commute.
Meanwhile as mid-days and afternoon drive lead the recovery, it’s consumption on actual AM/FM radios that is leading the way.
When people are at-work and on the go, they seek out radio. That’s why AM/FM’s audience is younger, more employed and has a higher household income than heavy TV viewers who are 55+.
Another key insight from this year is the importance of habit formation. As the school year begins and new routines are once again being formed, the importance of re-establishing listening habits is essential to winning now.
One of the best ways to create habits and drive cume is through Word of Mouth.
We began the year with our 20/20 Vision post talking about the impact of organic influencers. Bypassing social media celebrities for real listeners who are passionate about your station and willing to share it with their friends and co-workers. These Super-Fans and Amplifiers play an essential role in your ongoing recovery, but you can’t afford to leave it up to chance. DMR/Interactive helps you facilitate the share and identify your High Value Listeners by name and reward them with Surprise and Delight touch-points.
Since habits don’t form overnight, a proven strategy that we leverage to help stations generate P1 listening habits is implementation-intention and it has been shown to increase habit formation by 160%. In short, it’s the process of asking listeners, old and new alike, to think about where your station currently fits into their week.
In this increasingly fragmented audio landscape, we have to earn their listening and keep them coming back for more.
Radio remains the 800-pound gorilla of audio. However, it’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there in the first place.
Keeping them coming back for more sounds intuitive and straightforward. However it requires a renewed focus and ongoing commitment to “Be Better“ from everyone in radio to ensure we win now – both during and after this pandemic.
Your advertisers and listeners expect that of you and you can expect it of us.
Building relationships with the employed heavy listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue isn’t a box to be checked or a process to be completed, it’s a relentless pursuit.
This letter is the 5th installment in an annual series that started in 2016, written to coincide with Labor Day, radio’s unofficial holiday. Earlier editions of the letter are available here: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Happy Labor Day,
President and COO