How Streaming Services Expanded (and Strengthened) Radio’s Reach

Radio as an advertising medium has gone through several evolutions throughout the years. In the early 1900’s it was one of the primary means of mass communication throughout the United States (and indeed, throughout the world). With the advent of television, radio stations adapted to the times. Similarly, since the dawn of the Internet Age, radio has been affected by even more changes in the market. 
The Internet boom of the late 90’s/early ’00s eventually became the catalyst for a revolution in radio. Podcasts provide a prime example of this phenomenon: while the audience for terrestrial radio remains high, the audience for digital podcasts continues to grow, with 41% of Americans aged 12+ listening to podcasts monthly in 2021, according to one study.
What has been the result of this revolution so far? In many cases, streaming services and other online channels have expanded and strengthened radio’s reach. Many companies that use a “hybrid” approach — investing in traditional radio and newer alternatives — have found their market presence is more robust than ever before.

Online Radio Increases Distribution

In years past, one of the disadvantages of radio as a commercial medium was its limitation on when and where listeners could tune in. Often, people could only listen to the radio in the car during their commute to and from work; or they would have to schedule specific times to tune in for fear of missing one of their favorite programs.
Now, online radio has completely changed the equation for millions of listeners. People can now listen to radio programs through one of their devices, whether a smartphone, a PC, or a tablet.
They can also catch up on their favorite programs at their convenience instead of waiting for specific days and times during the week. This increased flexibility has helped boost the number of radio listeners nationwide.

Podcast Platforms Make Shows More Accessible

Even if a radio show’s audience decreases traditional listenership, it may increase podcast reach. Many radio shows find a “second life” on podcast networks, where users can download episodes, stream them through an app, or watch them on YouTube. (For example, the old NPR show “Car Talk” has become quite popular in podcast form years after it originally went off the air.) Again, the exceptional convenience and flexibility that podcasts offer greatly attract listeners to programs.
Along with enhanced accessibility, podcast platforms can be an excellent asset for advertisers looking to deepen their engagement with consumers. For instance, podcast ad copy can often be longer and richer in information, with listeners being more attentive because they specifically sought out the podcast and can pause it or re-listen it at their leisure.

Streaming Provides Insight into Listeners

Another key benefit is that online radio provides profound insight into your listening audience’s makeup, preferences, and behaviors. Of course, such insight can help you to develop more effective marketing campaigns and increase distribution in the most efficient way possible. 
Granted, traditional radio metrics (such as Nielsen ratings) can be beneficial in developing and implementing a marketing initiative. However, Nielsen surveys, portable people meters (PPMs), and radio listening diaries can only go so far when accurately representing your audience’s size, scope, and nature. On the other hand, streaming analytics software can often provide a more reliable and comprehensive data set for analysis. 
Moreover, combining your radio ads (both traditional and online) with digital ads can provide a considerable boost to your marketing efforts since people often listen through their phones and can use them for browsing while staying engaged with the program. And when you employ cohesive, compelling storytelling as part of your unified strategy, you’ll be in the best position to attract new customers to your website.

Combine Traditional Radio with Online Mediums For Maximum ROI

Even though radio has faced its share of competition and challenges throughout the years, it still stands strong as an advertising channel, with millions of listeners tuning in daily. Now that podcasts and streaming services have become so popular, they can make (and have made) the reach of radio even more extensive than it used to be. 
As you pursue a radio advertising strategy for your business, ensure not to neglect online mediums that will bolster your efforts. Consider working with an experienced media partner if you can’t implement all the needed changes on your own. When you combine traditional and online radio marketing with other forms of digital advertising, you’ll put your company in the best position to succeed and enjoy sustainable growth and maximum ROI for years to come.

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