As marketing channels go, radio is positively prehistoric. Radio advertising dates all the way back to 1922, when US telecoms group AT&T started to sell opportunities for businesses to have their brands mentioned on air.
But the fact that radio has been around for so long doesn't mean it's no longer relevant or worthwhile for advertisers and their audiences.
The idea that radio advertising can't compete with newer marketing methods in terms of relevance and appeal to younger audiences is one of the common misconceptions surrounding this medium.
Misconception #1: it's outdated
There has been a clear increase in popularity of audio-based content in recent years.
The growth of formats like podcasts shows that people of various ages, nationalities and social backgrounds are still very much in the habit of listening to things that interest them, which underlines the potential of radio to engage with listeners and grab their attention.
Another argument is that radio has been eclipsed by online streaming services, but research suggests that AM/FM broadcasting continues to capture much larger audience shares than platforms like Pandora and Spotify.
In terms of listening time, AM/FM radio has a 23-times greater share than Spotify and an 11-times greater share than Pandora.
Furthermore, radio has benefited from recent improvements in technology. The incorporation of digital signals has enabled broadcasters to expand their reach and deliver high-definition audio.
The industry has also embraced innovations that allow listeners to see song titles and artists' names when music is playing. This adds to the overall listening experience and gives people a greater appreciation of the radio medium, fueling positive sentiment that advertisers can benefit from.
Misconception #2: it's impossible to track results
Like with many other forms of marketing, one of the question marks that often hovers over radio advertising relates to the results brands can expect to see from it. How do you measure the returns you're getting from the budget you're investing in this channel?
Without dedicated processes and methods in place to track the outcomes of your radio advertising, there's no way to connect the content you're putting out on the airwaves with business results.
That's why it's important to have clear metrics in place to measure the performance of your radio advertising. One useful step is to include clear, consistent calls to action in your radio communications, since this makes it easier to determine which actions being taken by your customers have been prompted by which content.
If you set a clear campaign goal to boost the number of visitors to your website, for example, and make this the focus of your CTAs, frequent spikes in web traffic just after your radio ads are broadcast can be taken as a sign of success.
You can also learn more about the effectiveness of your radio advertising by engaging with new customers, conducting questionnaires and inviting feedback on social media to find out what led them to you.
Misconception #3: young people don't listen to the radio
If younger people (aged 18 to 34, for example) are an essential part of your audience, radio might not be the first option that comes to mind when you're thinking about the most effective spaces to engage with them. Social media and forms of online marketing might seem more obvious and relevant if you're targeting people who spend a lot of time in the digital domain.
However, there's evidence to suggest that younger people still have plenty of exposure to radio broadcasting.
Nielsen's Audio Today 2019 report shows that radio reaches a higher proportion of Americans every week (92%) than any other platform. The findings reveal that radio consistently connects with more consumers than TV, mobile or digital, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.
As far as the age of listeners is concerned, 90% of 18 to 34-year-olds listen to the radio over the course of the average week - more than the proportion that use their smartphone to access content (87%) or watch television (75%).