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Turn It Up: Why Radio Advertising Can Deliver for Small Business

By Karen Axelton

As you’re planning this year’s marketing strategy for your small business, don’t forget to consider radio. Both online and traditional AM/FM radio boast powerful reach, and the number of Americans who regularly listen to online radio is growing rapidly, according to a new national survey by Arbitron and Edison Research. Here’s some of what the study found:

  • One out of three Americans age 12 and up listen to online radio at least weekly.
  • Those weekly online radio listeners listened for an average of nearly 12 hours per week—an increase of more than two hours compared to last year.
  • Much online radio listening takes place on smartphones. More than half of Americans age 12 and up own smartphones; among the 18-to-34 age group, three-fourths own smartphones.
  • Traditional AM/FM radio has grown to 243 million weekly listeners.
  • Those weekly traditional radio listeners spend about two hours a day listening.
  • Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of Americans age 18 and up say they turn on AM/FM radio in the car “almost all of the time” or “most of the time,” making in-car AM/FM radio far more popular than CD players (15 percent) portable MP3 players (11 percent) or satellite radio (10 percent).

The ubiquity of devices that can allow consumers to listen to radio whenever and wherever they want—in their cars, on the go or on their phones—is a big factor in the growth of online radio, the report states.

What do these trends mean to you?

Cover your bases. If radio is a good o Consumers today don’t want to listen to their favorite stations just in the car—they’re plugging into them on headsets using their smartphones or tablets. If radio is a good option for your business, consider using both online and traditional AM/FM outlets to advertise.
Consider AM/FM music stations as your ad venue of choice. Of the 45 percent of Americans who believe it’s important to stay up-to-date with new music, three-fourths (78 percent) say AM/FM radio is the best way to do so.
Be cognizant of your audience. The most important factor in any online or traditional radio ad campaign is to know where your target customers spend their time. The radio station should be able to tell you their audience demographics and, if the station is a good fit, can direct you to the times and shows that will best target your exact audience–whether that’s the drive-time news hour or the 2 a.m. electronic dance music show.

Image by Flickr user Marcin Wichary (Creative Commons)


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