Jacobs Media's Techsurvey10 Released: Radio At The Digital Tipping Point
April 7, 2014

In Jacobs Media's new study of core radio listeners, the impact of digitally delivered media continues its rise, providing both opportunity and challenges to traditional radio broadcasters.

The media habits of 11 different format core audiences, along with five generations, are examined in this mega-survey of radio listeners. From Boomers to Millennials, different patterns of consumption emerge. 

And as Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs points out, "We learned a lot about how digital's growth is changing media habits, but by studying the movement of younger listeners - Generations Y and Z - we gain an even greater understanding of where the puck is headed."

Here are some of the key findings from Techsurvey10:
Core radio listeners are moving fast to digital media & gadgetry - TS10 now shows that three-fourths (75%) own a smartphone, while more than half (51%) carry a tablet.  And now more than half (55%) stream audio at least weekly, while two-thirds (67%) access online video during a typical 7-day period.

Radio is on both sides of the digital tipping point - While 95% still tune in daily, fewer respondents listen for a minimum of an hour on a typical day. And perceptually, radio listening has momentum. Compared to a year ago, only 9% say they’re listening to less radio, compared to 9 in 10 who say they’re listening to the same amount of radio – or more.

And many respondents are now actively accessing station content on digital channels. When asked to recall their prior week's listening to the station that sent them the survey, 17% of all broadcast radio consumption is occurring on digital channels – via computer and mobile streams, as well as on other sources. The younger the generation, the more reliance there is on digital platforms to enjoy broadcast radio.

Pandora is experiencing its own tipping point - And it centers around its commercial load. While still the most popular of the pure-plays by a wide margin, criticisms of Pandora continue to intensify, led by perceptions that its commercials are annoying.  And while Gen Y and Z consumers are the top generations for Pandora listening, they are also the most critical of its commercials.

The "connected car" movement continues - Now nearly one-fifth (19%) of respondents say their vehicle (or the one they ride in most often) sports a system like Audi Connect or Ford SYNC. Similar to last year, half (50%) say the lion's share of their radio listening takes place in cars, especially progressively younger consumers.

Facebook wins the "cume" & “TSL” awards - Of those with a social profile, 95% are on Facebook.  And of those, nearly three-fourths (73%) visit at least daily making Facebook’s “regularity” nearly five times greater than the nearest social network. But it is not all rosy for Mark Zuckerberg's baby, as Generation Z indicates their Facebook engagement is waning and being replaced by more time spent on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The digital tipping point impacts wake-up patterns - Nearly as many consumers are roused every day by their phones as clock radios. And the pattern is generational - a majority of Boomers still get out of the bed to buzzers or radio that emanate from clock radios, while at least six in ten Millennials (67%) and Gen Z (60%) participants use their phones to wake up.

Via sharing, stations with great content can accelerate the digital tipping point - In this year's study, the percentage of those who frequently share online content via social, web, and email sources has doubled. Now more than one-third (34%) say they frequently share compelling content, a huge opportunity for great stations and personalities. Women and Millennials are most apt to profile as "serial sharers."

Acknowledgment begets more brand consumption – Three in ten (30%) respondents indicate they listen more to stations that interact with them, especially women and members of both Generations Y and Z.

The digital tipping point impacts streaming registration - Radio has an opportunity to collect much-needed usage data, as more than seven of ten (72%) "streamies" say they’d be willing to provide basic information in exchange for accessing station streams.

But new music discovery has not reached the tipping point - A majority (51%) of those interested in new music designate radio as their go-to source. While Gen Z respondents are also choosing YouTube and Pandora to find out about new music and new artists, broadcast radio also leads in the areas of artist access and listener trust when it comes to music consumption.

Key Takeaways:
1. Radio now competes with everyone.  It is essential for broadcasters to view the competitive landscape beyond  other stations down the dial. Radio has a myriad of digital competitors, forcing the industry to develop effective strategies.
2. Stop doing random acts of digital. Radio can’t just show up in new digital spaces, but needs to excel there. Broadcasters need mobile engagement, a competitive  stream, and to stop treating social media as a hobby.
3. Radio doesn’t have a digital problem – it has a measurement problem. It is essential that ratings account for all the different ways that consumers are accessing radio content. 
4. Every person counts. Broadcasters need to commit to a policy of social acknowledgment in order to reap the benefits of fan engagement.
5. Radio needs to go to school on cars. Techsurvey10 reaffirms the importance of the automotive industry to radio. And as more vehicles become truly “connected,” competition for the ears and attention spans of drivers will only intensify.
6.  Radio needs to address the challenges & opportunities presented by young consumers. TS10 offers several avenues and touch points that connect radio brands to  this audience. But their media habits – from waking up in the morning to headphone usage – run counter to traditional behavior.
7.  The music industry ignores radio at its own peril. Radio is a powerful force when it comes to new music discovery and artist exposure and promotion. It dominates all other media, and emerges as a trusted source for music consumers.

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Manny Simon
VP/Adult Formats,
Republic Records

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