If you were to go to someone on the street today and ask them which radio station they listen to, some will still rattle off a local AM/FM station. However, what’s becoming a popular answer in the past few years is online streaming services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora (didn’t she have something to do with a box?).

We have more options to choose from when it comes to online radio streaming apps than ever before. So many options, in fact, that people have been beginning to wonder if this flood of satellite and digital radio will someday drowned out traditional AM/FM stations.

A Flashback on Radio History

Before diving into today’s online radio services, let’s take a step back and look at the humble beginnings of traditional AM/FM radio. The science behind wireless communication (radio) goes back to the 1830’s, but the first radio broadcast of something other than Morse code occurred on Christmas Eve 1906 when Reginald Fessenden broadcast himself singing, playing his violin, and reading from the Bible.

The first commercial radio station went on air in November, 1920 as KDKA in Pittsburg Pennsylvania. The next four years saw the rise of over 600 commercial stations all across the country. In August, 1922 we heard our first radio advertisement. The 1940’s gave us the invention of the transistor, which ultimately lead to Transistor Radios in 1952. We then had stereophonic followed by personal sounds systems and finally reaching digital streaming radio and music services.

We’ve been listening to everything from music to advertisements on the radio for over 100 years. The many different online streaming apps we have to choose from today may be growing in popularity, but the long history of traditional AM/FM radio is likely to stay strong well into our future.

But this doesn’t mean the listening experience we partake in today is the same as the generations before us. So what has changed and how has radio broadcasts evolved with the new technologies over time?

What does Radio Sound Like Today?

Traditional AM/FM Radio broadcasts have been around for over a century and while technology has forced the radio industry to evolve, the morning, afternoon, and night talk shows with your favorite disc jockeys don’t seem to be going anywhere. Nielson.com released a report that says 63% of people still listen to traditional AM/FM radio.

However, like I mentioned earlier, the past 100 years or so has seen revolutionary changes in the way we broadcast information wirelessly. We still consume music, sports, entertainment, and news, but today, online broadcasts offer us more ways to engage in the information we choose to partake in. Now we have streaming music based on genre, specific styles, specific artist, broadcast talk shows, and podcasts.

Let’s Talk about Music

Today, 91% of the United States say they listen to music every day. Out of this group, three out of four people say they listen to their music through an online platform. The Nielson report goes on to explain that, on average, people listen to 24 hours of music a week.

What does this information mean? People listen to a lot of music. So what, right? If we look at the information, I think we can safely say that the content on the radio has changed relatively little during the course of their broadcasting history, but what has changed is the way we engage with their content.

Another Nielson study examined the different platforms people use during specific times of the day to consume media. The report highlights some key numbers that could help us compare traditional radio vs. online streaming.

Three Key Points

  • Between 6AM and 3PM, an average of 30% of people get their information from radio broadcasts.
  • From 9PM to 4AM, that number drops between 4-9%.
  • Media consumption with a smartphone has almost no change in percentage during the entire day.

The question now becomes, as a business owner, how do you use this information to ensure that your advertisements are being seen or heard by the biggest and most engaging audience? This expansion of radio access has many companies changing their “Radio Budget” to an “Audio Budget” to accommodate those customers listening digitally.

Programmatic Radio Buying

With all the different options for digital radio services, it’s becoming difficult for businesses to know where and how they should be placing their advertisements. The solution for this problem is Programmatic Radio buying. As a business owner, one of the most important resources you have is the data you collect from your audience. Through data and analytics, you have the most accurate information that you need to make smart business decisions.

Programmatic Advertising gives you access to multiple Tier 1 publishers, assuring quality inventory through one network. Programmatic Radio reaches listeners on desk-tops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and players. It allows you targeting options based on radio format, geographic coverage, demographic information, gender, 3rd party, and 1st party data. Programmatic Radio is an efficient way to expand your audio reach to your customers.

If people want to reach their customers who are listening on their devices, do they need a different message on streaming platforms than they have on traditional radio? No, it’s recommended that your advertisements should have a unified message across all your audio advertising. A unified message eliminates potential confusion to your customers and keeps your message consistent.

People still love their radio and now more than ever the can get it the way they like. The act of “listening” to radio has not changed. The device that we use to listen with is what is evolving. It’s now up to businesses to change their advertising strategies to meet these new opportunities and capture new customers.