Are These Myths about Radio Hurting Your Ad Campaign?

Written By

Liz Iversen

Published On

Thursday, Apr 22
Old type of radio with fm channels and antenna on the gray background
We’ve written before about how being biased against radio could be harming your business. Now, a new report by Cumulus Media and Westwood One elaborates on common misperceptions about radio that may be preventing advertisers from achieving their full marketing potential. Using data from Nielsen, the Federal Reserve, and Edison Research, the study illuminates eight things brands have completely wrong about radio.

Myth #1: Due to the pandemic, no one is listening to AM/FM Radio.

Reality: AM/FM radio has retained 95% of its reach among persons 18+ and 100% of its reach among those with incomes of $75K+, according to Nielsen. 


Myth #2: Due to the pandemic, everyone’s working at home and no one is commuting.

Reality: Marketers/agencies underestimate how many Americans commute and overestimate those working from home. According to January 2021 national employment data from the Federal Reserve, 60% of Americans are commuting every day, 16% are commuting some days, and 24% are working from home every day.


Myth #3: AM/FM radio has very low reach.

Reality: 88% of all Americans are reached by AM/FM radio on a weekly basis, according to Nielsen’s Q3 2020 Total Audience Report.


Myth #4: Audience shares (time spent listening) to Pandora/Spotify are nearly equal to AM/FM radio.

Reality: Actual share of audio time spent with AM/FM radio is 21 times larger than ad-supported Spotify and 10 times that of ad-supported Pandora, according to Edison Research’s “Share of Ear,” Q1-4 2020.


Myth #5: In the world of the connected car, the number one thing people do in their vehicles is stream online radio on their smartphones.

Reality: Among ad-supported audio, AM/FM radio has a dominating 88% share of in-car time spent, according to Edison Research.


Myth #6: Today’s optimal media plan: Put all of your money into TV and digital.

Reality: Adding AM/FM radio to the TV and digital plan generates incremental reach for the same spend, according to a case study by Nielsen Media Impact.


Myth #7: There’s a lack of ROI (return on investment) and sales lift evidence for AM/FM radio.

Reality: AM/FM radio delivers impressive ROI. Examples, according to Nielsen:

  • Every $1 invested in a home improvement radio campaign yields a $12 sales return.
  • Every $1 invested in a department store’s radio campaign yields a $17 sales return.
  • Every $1 invested in an auto aftermarket AM/FM radio campaign yields a $21 sales return.    


Myth #8: AM/FM radio listening only happens during drive times.

Reality: 61% of total American AM/FM radio listening occurs outside of drive times, including middays and weekends, according to Nielsen. 


Setting aside common misperceptions about radio can help you get the most out of your advertising budget. Let the research speak for itself and add radio to your marketing campaign. Chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Ready to learn more about radio advertising? Contact SMI today.

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