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Back in 2010, we extolled the benefits of using radio to market to Baby Boomers. But we warned you then that very soon traditional radio wouldn’t be the only game in town. Well, we were right, and we were wrong. The era of audio marketing is upon us. With increasingly tech-savvy seniors, it can be a smart addition to your integrated marketing strategy. But for those marketing to Baby Boomers and beyond, the (no longer new) medium of radio is still an incredibly effective way to reach a targeted older audience.

Radio, Is Your Audience Listening?

How has traditional AM/FM radio fared in this new age of audio marketing? Quite well actually. According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report Q1 2018, “92% of U.S. adults listen to radio each week, the highest reach across platforms.”

Impressively, 94% older adults ages 50-64  and 88% of adults 65+ listen weekly.

Meanwhile, radio reaches 41.2 million monthly listeners among Baby Boomers (ages 55-64), representing 98% of the Baby Boomer population. Nielsen also reported that U.S. adults ages 50-64 listened to almost 15 hours of radio a week while adults 65+ listened to about 12 hours of radio weekly.

Comparing Weekly Reach

News/talk formats and public radio stations are especially appealing to Boomers (ages 55-64), capturing 26.5% of them weekly and 27.9% of seniors (65+). In 2017, 42% of NPR listeners were over 55 and 68% were college graduates.

Radio has also been smart – traditional radio stations have entered the digital game by offering their broadcasts via the web. That means the audience can follow them from the car to their home or office and back to the car, which means your messages will follow, too. Edison Research’s Infinite Dial report found that 33% of adults 55+ listen online.

Monthly Online Audio Listening

And, radio advertising shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s actually predicted to increase in the coming years. PwC’s latest annual Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report projects online and offline media advertising markets through 2022. They project that “the radio ad market will increase from $17.7 billion this year to $18.4 billion in 2022,” and that the advertising of the online component of traditional radio stations will be the fastest-growing segment.

What Is Audio Marketing?

Audio marketing = radio marketing for the modern age. It’s still capturing your audience through dynamic auditory ad spots, but the devices and programs on which these can be heard are more plentiful. This gives you the opportunity to better target older adults based on their preferences for certain delivery mechanisms or even specific programs. Basically, with the advent of podcasts, streaming radio services like Pandora and Spotify and smart speakers like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, your marketing choices have significantly opened up beyond the AM/FM dial.

According to a 2018 podcast consumer report from Edison Research and Triton Digital, 13% of those ages 55+ listen to podcasts monthly. While this number is a smaller segment than other age demographics, it has been increasing year over year, showing the future growth opportunity. However, if you are a senior living provider exploring ways to market directly to adult children, a podcast may be effective: Over a third of those ages 25-54 listen monthly.

Monthly Podcast Listening

But why choose to advertise during a podcast? As more of us expect our media to be delivered on-demand, podcasts are quickly emerging as a low-cost, convenient and accessible form of entertainment. You can decide which shows to place ads in to stand out to your audience and podcasts are hosted across multiple platforms and devices. That means it’s easier than ever to reach a wide swathe of people, increasing your overall brand awareness. Plus, new tracking capabilities make it possible to track effectiveness.

Podcast listeners are also avid users of smart speakers. 39% of new smart speaker owners listen to podcasts on their home devices (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc) weekly.

Smart speakers are a relatively new entrant to audio marketing but have already seen impressive adoption rates. According to NPR and Edison Research’s 2018 Smart Audio Report, “18% of Americans 18+ own a Smart Speaker; or around 43 million people.” Of those 43 million people, 22% are 55+, which is almost 9.5 million. And ownership rates keep rising. In fact, people ages 55+ constituted 33% of First Adopters and 19% of Early Mainstream users.

Smart Speaker Owners: Age

More and more consumers are relying on their smart speakers for a variety of activities, including delivery of audio media, information searches, shopping and even getting the news. This could eventually lead to a smaller targeted audience for your online display ads to serve to.

Time Using Smart Speaker Replacing Your Time With Something Else

It also seems that as more of us consume free, streaming media, we know that advertisements are a part of using these services. According to NPR, most people don’t mind various types of ads. So don’t be afraid that your ads will be skipped or ignored!

How Do You Feel About These Ads?

Capture Your Audience

To capture your target audience you may need to think beyond the airwaves and discover where and how your prospects are listening to audio content. Evaluate whether testing a new medium in addition to traditional radio makes sense as part of your comprehensive integrated marketing strategy.

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About The Author

Susan Monahan