Radio accounts for 70% of all audio listening in UK

From a press release to
Posted 30 September 2014, 7.00am edt

RABNederland via Twitter

Audio consumption in the UK is growing across all platforms, creating more opportunities for advertisers than ever before, according to a major new study published today (Sept 30th) by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

The research - conducted in association with The Sound strategic research agency with data from the latest RAJAR MIDASplus survey – found that radio reach remains stable meaning it continues to be the dominant audio channel, accounting for 70% of all time spent listening. However, on-demand listening has increased the weekly reach of the total audio audience from 1,395 million hours in autumn 2012 to 1,472 million hours in spring 2014.

Audio, whether ‘owned’, ‘on-demand’ or ‘live radio’ was shown to play a significant role in people’s lives, meeting six different ‘need states’:


The difference in mood and motivation between those ‘need-states’ affected the type of audio people chose to consume. However, whilst different audio services were shown to play complementary roles, live radio was still the primary audio format people chose to meet those ‘needs-states’.

On-demand accounts for a disproportionate share of young people’s commercial audio listening at 29% of their total listening hours each week, in contrast to 7% for those aged 25 years and older, reflecting their availability to indulge in more immersive ‘need-states’. However, live radio remains the dominant channel, even amongst 15-24 year-olds, accounting for 71% of their listening time.

Analysis of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Databank shows that audio can play an important role, not just in short-term “activation” campaigns, but also in longer-term “brand-building” activity. Campaigns which use radio outperform those which don’t feature the medium, and this is true across many metrics including sales, ROMI (return on marketing investment) and profitability.

The research also shows that campaigns that include radio in the mix have a much bigger effect on brand trust. This may have something to do with the role that radio plays in their lives.

Les Binet of Adam & Eve DDB said: "Audio can play an important role not just in “activation” campaigns but also in longer-term brand-building activity, making it a highly valuable medium and something which advertisers should not undervalue.”

Mark Barber, Planning Director at the RAB said: “The increased commercial reach offered by the new audio landscape offers new, potent, opportunities to advertisers. It’s heartening to see that in the face of evolving platforms and technology, radio retains its unique appeal for listeners.”

The RAB’s international reputation sees its research findings sought in a number of different radio markets, with the Audio Now study to be presented at the ASI European Radio Symposium in Madrid in November.

Notes to editors

  • Quantitative stage: survey analysis to establish the overall size of the audio market at consumer level and individual segments within this, and to identify trends using RAJAR MIDASplus (Measurement of Internet Delivered Audio Services) data. The survey comprises 1,000 re-contacted respondents from the main RAJAR survey.
  • Qualitative stage: conducted by specialists The Sound Research, focusing on “digitally agile” consumers, i.e. younger people (15-49) who listen to live radio but also to at least one digital audio service. The 32 participants recorded video footage of themselves on smartphones when they were listening to audio, explaining what audio they were listening to and why. They subsequently attended discussion groups to explore some of the themes that emerged from the initial phase. The “Audio Moments” database that was created from this consisted of 72 hours of footage made up of over 800 individual video clips.
  • Expert opinion: Les Binet, Head of Effectiveness at Adam & Eve DDB, provides a neutral, expert perspective on the roles that audio can play for advertisers, using the Brand- Building/Activation framework featured in the influential IPA study ‘The Long and the Short of It’ (of which he was co-author), and the world-leading advertising effectiveness data from the IPA databank.