Radio in the UK – or maybe now more appropriately Audio – is potentially in as strong a position than it ever has been.

I still class radio traditional, or ‘not digital’, when planning my clients’ marketing strategies. But it’s far from traditional; it’s portable, online and evolving as much as any digital offering out there.

Figures for in-car and at-home listening are strong but radio’s ‘other’ options to listen continue to creep up and up, particularly now that we can shout at little boxes who obey our commands! Ultimately there are multiple ways to get our adverts heard.

Radio must not be ignored. It’s as targeted and accountable as any other digital opportunity out there.

So, what do the experts have to say about the ever-evolving radio marketplace?

We spoke with Rupert Garrett at Radio Experts and here’s what he had to say:

Radio audiences, audio online and podcasts

88% of the UK currently tune into radio every week and 65% into commercial radio. Whilst the BBC still has the higher share of listening (49% v 48%, as people listen to BBC stations for longer) commercial radio not only has its highest share of listening for 20 years but now has 2.5 million listeners more than the BBC (35.9 million v 33.4 million). This growth has been helped by well-known celebrities moving to commercial radio (Chris Evans, Simon Mayo, Eddie Mair – all from the BBC – Amanda Holden, Fleur East, Gemma Atkinson and, like him or loathe him, Nigel Farage) as well as the major commercial radio players in Global Radio, Bauer Radio and the Wireless Group all investing in support behind their brands.

Listening to radio alone via a digital device (DAB Radio, desktop/laptop computer, smartphone, voice activated speaker, TV) now accounts for 57% of overall listening hours (up from 52.4% last year and forecast to be close to 100% by 2030) with listening to DAB radios now accounting for 70% of all digital listening, and digital listening in cars now has a record share of 42.2% of all in-car listening. 28% of adults claim to own a voice activated speaker, and over 90% of these owners use it to listen to live radio.

Almost 30 million of us now listen to audio online

This covers on demand-music services, podcasts and live radio via desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone and smart speaker and any listen again with music streaming remaining increasingly popular. Spotify claim to have 23 million unique visitors per month in the UK with 40% opting to pay the monthly subscription in order to not be served by commercials but the 60% that are being served ads are now available to be targeted more and more precisely.

Another area of massive growth has been the increase in the amount of podcast listening in the UK, with 9.4 million now listening to a podcast every week, 85% via mobile and 15% via desktop or smart home devices. The existing main podcast providers of Acast and Audioboom have now been joined by Podfront, backed by Wondery and Stitcher in the US who have brought us big podcasts such as Dr Death, Dirty John and Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Sessions, and the platform plans to help scale UK talent to an international audience. Global Player, Bauer Radio’s Instream and Spotify are also tipped to launch new original content in 2020.

In 2020 and beyond

With live radio offering mass coverage and digital audio offering additional specific targeting options, we would suggest considering using both as a means of targeting customers.

Personally, I love radio. Radio is a friend of mine. Music motivates me, it makes me happy, I get to discover artists and songs I would never have heard and I’m never lonely with a DJ or podcast chatting away in my ears. So long may radio reign!

At Space & Time we have a wealth of experience when it comes to audio, so if you’d like to understand how we can deliver the right campaign for you get in touch here.

Hannah Levick, Media Manager