Is radio unfairly undervalued as an advertising destination?

Is radio unfairly undervalued as an advertising destination?

With radio in the UK recording its largest ever total audience in Q1 2022, and with European listeners now having access to a wide variety of linear and digital content, audio remains a powerful medium.

But is this reflected in marketers’ media mix, or are they shunning audio channels in favour of more measurable and trackable digital avenues?

At Mediatel’s Future of Audio Europe event, Ella Sagar, reporter at The Media Leader, hosted a panel to ask how the audio industry can become more attractive to advertisers and what radio needs to do to adapt to the rapid pace of media digitisation.

Watch or read a summary below…

The success of podcasts has more brands tuning in to audio

Panellist Sam Austin, head of audio at Goodstuff Communications, said the rise of podcasts has driven newfound interest in audio from advertisers.

“We’ve seen this big digital migration, and alongside that is huge adoption in terms of listening to podcasts,” she commented. “These new developments have given us the opportunity to have better conversations with clients. It may well be that they come to us and say, ‘I’m really keen on this podcast,’ but you look at the brief and you go, ‘Actually, that’s not relevant for you, but audio as a whole is booming, it’s changing, it’s really relevant for your brand and what you want to do’.”

The barrier Austin sees to further spend on audio is being able to clearly communicate its benefits: “B2C brands really took off over the pandemic because it was direct to your home, direct to consumer. What we’ve struggled to do is, traditionally, show how radio is driving that B2C element, whereas now we’ve got the ability to do that with digital audio, pixel matching, being able to say, ‘this [platform] has driven this response’.”

How can radio overcome its perception gap with digital?

Demi Abiola (pictured, below), investment business partner at mSix&Partners, believes perception is the biggest problem radio faces when trying to appeal to advertisers.

He explained: “There was a fantastic study commissioned by the Radiocentre … an evaluation of on versus offline media channels, and there was a massive discrepancy in terms of the way individual channels were perceived and the way that budgets were optimised. … [The study] found out what the most important attributes were for advertisers, in terms of brand building and — surprise, surprise — TV and radio came out on top and online display came out the weakest.

“[Despite this,] when you ask advertisers what the most important thing for them was, there was an over-evaluation of online media channels.”

Buyers believe in radio but want better measurement

On the buy-side, Emma Dibben, head of partner engagement at Wavemaker, is a firm believer in radio’s ability to deliver a return on investment: “I am a confident buyer. We’ve always known radio’s really cost-efficient and that’s one of the reasons brands love it because they know it will deliver at a cost-effective rate … we know it delivers long and short-term sales effects … when we look at econometrics, we know that it delivers a competitive return on investment.”

Where Dibben wants to see improvements in radio buying is in the development of a unified measurement language for audio.

She explained: “Where we struggle as implementational planners and buyers in agencies is putting the linear story and the digital story together. There’s absolutely tons and tons of research, we’ve seen all the different data points … we know where and how people are listening. … What we don’t have is a clear and transparent reach and frequency model.”

In a multichannel world, both hard and soft metrics have value

Damian Scragg, general manager of international and brand sales at Veritonic, urged buyers to consider a mixed approach, taking advantage of both hard and soft metrics, if they wanted to benefit from successful full-funnel campaigns.

He commented: “On one hand you’ve got that path of least resistance where, OK, TV and radio work, they’ve been around for a long time … let’s put 90% [of our budget] there because it works.

“And then you come from the digital side where you can get those hard metrics of online clicks and conversions … that hard data that says, ‘This drives conversions, this drives brand lift’. That can give you over-confidence.

“It does seem there is a blend between the hard, ‘This drove this’ … with soft, more brand-lift type metrics [and] the other benefits from that which you can’t necessarily measure as a number on a spreadsheet.”

Main image picture: Sagar, Scragg, Abiola, Dibben and Austin.


Mediatel are the audio experts operating at the centre of audio trading, distribution and analytic processing. Contact us for more information on J-ET, Audiotrack or our RAJAR data engine. To find your new job in audio visit Mediatel Jobs a dedicated marketplace for media, advertising, martech and adtech roles.

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