Dean Wilson, UK CEO and VP International at Active International, says the future of radio lies in “my radio”, a personal and community shaping experience that sets it apart from its Pandora and Spotify streaming and digital competitors...
1973 saw the release of the cult classic the Exorcist,
Concorde cut the flying time across the Atlantic by half
and the birth of commercial radio challenging the BBC’s
50 year dominance.
Fast forward almost 40 years and Global have paid £50
million for GMG, the imminent digital switchover is
facilitating new stations, and to use the phrase coined
by the RAB, it appears ‘Britain really does love radio’.
Technology has not only broadened the array of listening
platforms, but accelerated radio as a community
experience beyond audio to visual and social.
Against a fairly sluggish media market radio is making a
concerted effort to future proof the medium with a
forecasted year on year growth of almost 4%. While the
Jubilympics and Euro are clearly in radio’s favour (a
winner for stations such as TalkSPORT) it is more than
just luck with increases of between 3-5% forecast for
The government has increased its radio commitment by
76% year on year to take the number one spot, and of the
top 20 advertisers, only four reduced their spend in the
medium with Tesco tripling and Sky doubling their
investment to the tune of £4.3 million and £11 million
So why are advertisers turning up the dial? In an industry
that likes an acronym radio is creating its own form of
“stickiness” through TAR - technology, accountability and
relevance. In an environment where content is both
everywhere and everything, radio has two key challenges,
make it easy and make it interesting.
Radio listening in 2012 is platform agnostic, no longer
restricted to just home or cars. Accessing radio digitally
through radio, TV, online or mobile has helped achieve a
3.3% year on year increase in listening. The future of radio is
a hybrid one, developing radio’s online footprint through both
Radioplayer and DAB. With the recent announcement of a
further £21 million investment in the DAB infrastructure there
is hope that the digital switchover may come to fruition before
Since its launch just over 12 months ago Radioplayer boasts
seven million users and this is set to increase with the recent
development of its mobile app. With the ability to search,
select, personalise and catch up by station, programme or
location this is undeniably a crucial tool in radio’s growth.
Of the 90% of the population that tune in to radio, nearly half listen via a digital platform and almost a fifth via a
mobile phone, an increase of 24% year on year. At ease with
adopting new digital behaviours, mobile listening against
15-24s is double the average at just over a third. Younger
audiences are clearly engaging with radio through mobiles
and apps - the challenge is to continue delivering engaging,
fresh and compelling content in what is a very competitive
For me the future of radio lies in “my radio”, a personal and
community shaping experience that sets it apart from its
Pandora and Spotify streaming and digital competitors.
The power of developing strong station identities is in growth
of audiences, their loyalties and the commercial benefits this
enables. The recent hire of Nick “Grimmy” Grimshaw, well
known for being part of the cool celebrity set, is clearly part
of the bigger BBC Radio 1 picture to decrease the average of
its listeners from 32, to a more Kiss like 29.
Magic, Smooth and Heart are also hot on the heels of Radio
2 with clearly articulated brand personalities that engage
listeners and are very easy for advertisers and agencies to
Radio bookclubs are the new bumper stickers, dating sites
the new late night love shows increasing radio’s online
footprint. Whether it’s Globals’ eight million app downloads or
Absolute’s innovative streaming of targeted ads, radio
understands the role of technology in enhancing the
consumer experience and the power that lies within this.
There is a third and final part for radio’s continued strength -
delivering measurability and accountability. In our
increasingly data centric world, the launch of radioGAUGE
Predict takes the 2008 research one very beneficial step
A free online service, radioGAUGE Predict gives access to
robust historic data to evaluate the effectiveness of radio
campaigns, their role within the media mix and best practice
creative work. This is a clear example of a medium that is
both listening and responding.
It seems Buggles did not get it right - digital is not killing
radio’s star. As Tim Davie, head of audio and music at the
BBC commented: “We are moving to an on screen world.
Radio needs to accept that, get on with it and enjoy it.”
Sources: RAB, Media Guardian, Media Week