EMarketer Media Forecast: ‘Radio Is Very Resilient.

The portrait of radio that emerges in eMarketer’s latest radio forecast is one of a resilient medium with a growing cume, slightly declining time spent and steady revenue. “Radio is very resilient,” eMarketer senior analyst Marcus Johnson said in the research firm’s latest “Behind The Numbers” podcast, which covers media, tech and advertising.

While the title of the podcast episode is “Some Pillars of Traditional Media Are Crumbling,” that description doesn’t apply to radio. What keeps the medium resilient, even when faced with so many new forms of audio competition, is the ability to do local ad targeting and the pervasive habit among millions of Americans to tune in while in cars.

“People are still driving to work, they’re still going to listen to radio,” analyst Eric Hagstrom said in the podcast. “When we talk about digital advertising, we talk about targeting but radio still has a ton of local ad spend because they really reach those local audiences. If you are in the Memphis metropolitan area and only want to reach people in Memphis, radio is probably one of you best bets.”

According to eMarketer, over-the-air radio is a $14-15 billion industry, with revenue slowly growing since 2015.The forecast calls for a 0.5% increase this year, mainly due to political dollars from the 2018 midterm elections, followed by a 0.2% decrease in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of adult radio listeners continues to inch up each year “mainly because the adult population is growing, so new 18 year-olds are entering this bracket, “said analyst Chris Benson.

Another contributor to radio’s strength is the car-driving population, where most listening takes place. Much of the country drives and commute times haven’t gone down. And while digital audio alternatives such as Pandora and Spotifty are more readily available in newer models, the average age of cars on the road in the U.S. is 11.6 years. “We’ve not seen a lot of the digital streaming market be able to infiltrate the car as of yet,” Johnson said. “So radio is very resilient.”

According to eMarketer, broadcast radio’s share of the total advertising pie is currently about 6% and is forecast to slip to 5% within the next four years. But that doesn’t include ad revenue from broadcast radio streams. Digital radio, including Pandora, Spotify, podcasts and broadcast radio streams, is reported separately. “Now if we add the two up and look at the shares of the two markets, digital radio is about 22% of the total radio market in ad dollars, and we see that increasing in time to roughly one quarter by next year,” Hagstrom said.

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