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This article was published on June 30, 2017

How technology is enabling advertisers to connect with a highly engaged radio audience

How technology is enabling advertisers to connect with a highly engaged radio audience
Neil C. Hughes
Story by

Neil C. Hughes


Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast. Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast.

Although our lives are dominated by a myriad of screens, along with an ever-increasing selection of audio and video streaming services, it appears that the radio star is alive and well. Despite being bombarded by the equivalent of a few hundred newspapers of data every day, radio continues to reach 91% of the population each week.

We might be living in a digital world, but it seems there are still elements of our analog past that are desperately in need of a tech makeover. Today, brands and agencies expect radio performance measurement data to be on par with that of digital. Obtaining meaningful data is something we often take for granted and quickly run of patience when it’s not available.

NextRadio recently released a new audience measurement tool that aims to enable radio sellers to offer advertisers proof of who heard their ads when listening to FM radio through smartphones. The new Dial Report is a digital measurement of analog radio usage. It provides location-based data, demographics and radio listening data within 48 hours of airing spots.

The report highlights how to enable users to drill down into MSAs and/or device activity to uncover revealing specific measurement insights into radio campaigns. The in-depth analytics reveals data around engagement, campaign listens, demographic reach, listener proximity, and in-store traffic along with real-time listener behavior for advertisers.

Pandora radio was recently accused of cooking their figures and hiding the fact that the streaming giant has a fake listener’s problem. While advertisers receive the all-important impressions reports, they are also questioning the relevance of ads playing to an empty room.

Dial Report’s robust analytics appears to be exposing the inaccurate streaming data from services such as Pandora radio and is providing a much-needed wake-up call for marketers. For example, despite Pandora having a total of 21.96 billion listener hours in 2016, the platform is currently unable to identify active and inactive listeners.

The introduction of “are you still listening?” alerts is making marketers question whether their ads are reaching their target demographics. Dial Reports is attempting to solve this problem by offering real-time insights of listener’s behavior.

News that the decline in average active sessions during the fourth quarter of 2016 marks the first time that Pandora has sustained a year over year decline (-1%) in average active sessions further. This verifies the effect of increasing competition and saturation in music streaming.

Average Active Sessions for AM/FM radio streaming has grown year over year for the fifth straight quarter. Listeners are increasingly looking to AM/FM radio stations for music, information, entertainment, and a sense of community. Streaming makes this destination content available wherever listeners demand it. (source).

Pandora routinely asks for user zip code upon sign up of their service. However, this translates to only sharing targeted local ads that equal a static form of target marketing in a digital age that demands various forms of data to deliver dynamic real-time locational analytics.

The worlds of digital and the more traditional AM/FM radio stations have collided, but there is room for both to work alongside each other. Trends suggest that listeners are increasingly tuning into the traditional stations they know and love. But they are embracing the freedom that comes with streaming the content in any location.

However, the measurement of streaming digital audio along with FM Chip listening (unique to NextRadio) is being brought into the 21st century by new solutions such as those offered by Next Radio and their Dial Report. Marketers need to move away from measuring meaningless impression metrics and understand how they can engage with an audience rather than an empty room.

Generating meaningful information from an engaged audience is where advertisers are finding the elusive ROI they have been searching for. The alternative is watching a campaign grinding to a halt quicker than the decline of Pandora Radio.