How the UK is consuming Audio Content

One of the things I’m currently involved in is the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) recently formed Audio Council. The council’s aim is to educate the market about the possibilities offered by advertising in an online audio environment through education, developing business models, and increasing value. The council consists of key players throughout the audio and radio sector including research company Audiencenet, who have just published the results of a survey which looks at audio consumption.

With a 3000-strong sample size, the research – called Audiometrics – has delivered some interesting results, the highlights of which I have compiled below, comparing them to the RAJAR stats where possible:

The Results: See the infographic for more


In an average week the Audiometrics research shows that 90% of people listen to audio content. Interestingly this figure matches the figure for weekly radio listening, which RAJAR Q1 13 (a survey of more than 100,000) delivers. Additionally the research shows 48% listen to audio or radio online and although this figure is very close to RAJAR’s 49.6% for All Digital listening (including DAB, DTV and online), it is significantly larger than the split of just 13% for people who say they listen online/via apps.

The significant difference between these two stats is likely to be down to the nature of the question – Audiometrics are measuring all audio, whereas RAJAR only measures radio listening. This suggests that the additional online listening could be to non-radio related audio such as streaming music.

Interestingly this section of the Audiometrics study also showed that 6% of people are listening to podcasts on a weekly basis and a further 4% listen to audiobooks. These figures are higher than I would have expected to see and it will be interesting to see how these figures perform in subsequent studies.

Audiometrics also looked in to the devices that people use to listen to audio in an average week. Against All adults the results showed that a radio receiver was the most popular, with 56% of people listening to audio this way, followed by a computer/laptop on 34%, via DTV on 31% and smartphones on 25%.

Hi-fi stereos appear to be becoming a thing of the past, as they dropped right down the scale with only 23% of people listening to audio this way. Probably not that surprisingly, the figures are very different against 15-24’s with 53% saying they listen via a computer/laptop every week and 51% through a mobile/smartphone.

The study has also shown that the majority of audio listening in an average week takes place in the home (77%) followed by on public transport/in a vehicle (51%). Again, when we compare these figures to RAJAR there are some similarities. RAJAR shows 76% of people listen to radio in the home and 59% of people listen to radio in the car every week.

And finally, when Audiometrics asked what people’s single preferred device for listening to audio was, the results were again split between ages. Across All Adults radio at 35%, was favoured but against teenagers it is the smartphone at 36%, or MP3 player 35% (with radio only delivering 3% to this group).

As part of the IAB’s Audio Council project, Audiencenet are extending their Audiometrics study to include attitudes towards online audio advertising.

Watch this space for an update on those results and if you have any questions in the meantime in regards to online audio, then please feel free to get in touch.

*Based on research from Audiencenet on the UK’s weekly Audio Consumption in Q2, 2013 (sample: 3,112) & RAJAR Q1 2013

Simon Pearce is the Client Insight Director at audio and radio advertising specialist RadioWorks


My comment on the latest radio listening figures – RAJAR Q4 2012

This quarter’s RAJAR results have been a mixed bag as we see losses on some stations, but big gains on others. In London the top five stations all dropped down quarter on quarter, whilst Choice FM, Smooth and XFM all showed really positive increases. In particular, XFM increased their reach almost 20% to deliver 445,000 weekly adults – and with a whole host of new names, including Jon Holmes taking over the Breakfast Show, there is a real positive buzz around the station.

After flat figures last time around, digital radio listening has fared better this quarter, with 33% of all radio listening now via a digital platform. These figures have been helped by strong performances from a number of stations on digital radio including Jazz FM, who delivered their highest ever hours of 3 million. The BBC’s digital only station, 6 Music, added 1.9 million to the digital listening figures. Bauer’s Heat Radio also helped, by increasing their reach 18% year on year to 767,000, whilst the Absolute Radio and Smooth Radio networks delivered 76% and 45% (respectively) of all their listening via digital platforms.

And I have to say a big well done to Absolute Radio who have improved results across both their main station and the network as a whole, helping them achieve an impressive 11-year high of 3.3 million listeners. It’s not easy to pin down the exact reason for the improvement from a programming point of view but listening figures for the Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show have massively improved, whilst their decade stations Absolute Radio 80s, 90s and 00s have also shown year on year improvements. With a potential sale on the horizon, these figures could well increase Absolute’s value.

Here’s a final thought for you: Global Radio’s purchase of Real and Smooth Ltd looks all set to go through later on in the year. When it does, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Real Radio stations rebranded into the Heart network. If that were to happen we could be looking at a reach of almost 10 million weekly listeners!

If you’d like to read my full report on this quarter’s RAJAR it’s available here on the RadioWorks website. And I even got a little bit in MediaWeek / Brand Republic.

Thanks for reading


Simon Pearce is Head of Insight at radio advertising specialists RadioWorks and Maple Street Studios

Absolute Radio: Redefining Radio

Had a very interesting morning today thanks to Absolute Radio who invited me and a few RadioWorks colleagues along to their Redefining Radio conference at Portcullis House, just across the road from the countries seat of power. Speakers for the event included Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries, Karla Geci from Facebook, the BBC’s Tim Davie, Rohan Oomen from Xbox Live and Absolute Radio’s Clive Dickens, James Wigley, Geoff Lloyd and Dave Gorman.

If you don’t have time to read this full post skip to my summary at the bottom 🙂

The general message from all the speakers was that of positivity – radio listening is still growing and currently reaches 91% of the UK population was a stat rolled out by at least three of the speakers. Ed Vaizey told us how neither video or technology killed the Radio star, despite many predictions of its demise. Whilst Clive Dickens reminded us of how non-traditional radio is growing and commented on the changes the internet is having on the medium.

It seems to me that the World Wide Web really is ‘wide’ and can offer plenty of opportunities for Radio Output (or should that be Audio?). Radio stations are already making good use of Facebook in terms of listener interaction and services like Spotify and the UK RadioPlayer are telling all our friends what we’re listening to.

One of radio’s strengths is the sense of community that comes from being a listener. It is this sense of community that Xbox Live has developed with its users and what Facebook thrives off of. The challenge for radio, as defined by Absolute, is ‘Broadcasting one to many (to their community) whilst advertising one to one’. The answer? Well, according to Clive Dickens and James Wigley from Absolute, the answer is in-stream advertising. Encouraging listeners to sign up to an Absolute Radio account provides the station with rich listener data while the listener benefits from additional services and less, more relevant messages. RadioWorks are currently testing the in-stream advertising with one of our clients so if you’re interested in further information please contact us.

For me the best speaker of the morning was the BBC’s Director of Audio and Music, Tim Davie. Tim echoed the message of positivity around radio and mentioned that ‘listeners relationship with radio is the strongest of any media’. For further growth in the radio sector Tim pointed us towards improved creativity and innovations via partnerships – with the UK Radio Player cited as a good example of how this has worked in recent times.

The conference was wrapped up by writer, broadcaster and general funny man Dave Gorman who made two great points…

  1. A conversation is an interaction between two people, it doesn’t matter if it’s through twitter or across the airways – engaging with your audience / your community and speaking with them is what works
  2. People don’t care how they are listening (if it’s via the web, mobile, or AM) what they care about is that they are listening at all – and enjoying it (hopefully)

If you want to hear a great conversation in action I can definitely recommend his radio show, Sunday’s from 10am on Absolute Radio

So, in summary what have I taken away from this morning’s conference?

  • Radio is currently in a very strong position and has continued to grow despite the rise of new technologies
  • Radio needs to constantly adapt in order to have continued success – embracing creativity and technological developments whilst providing more targeted advertising opportunities
  • Radio needs to remember its core strengths and not lose sight of where it’s come from. Retain the sense of community, engage with the audience and keep them entertained.

Thanks for your time.


PS > More information and twitter feed from today’s conference can be found on Absolute Radio’s blog

What is ‘Digital Radio’?

Everyone’s talking about it but what do we mean by the term Digital Radio?

For the most part, when people are referring to Digital Radio they are talking about DAB Digital Radio. However, from the Radio Audience Listening figures (RAJAR) point of view Digital Radio consists of a number of different Digital Platforms. Below, I take a look at the break down of the Digital Radio listening figures…

Digital Radio listening, across all platforms, currently (RAJAR Q3 2011) achieves a weekly share of 28.2% and a weekly reach of 43.9%

DAB Radio – These are the actual digital set receivers, 39.4% of adults claim to have a DAB at home. DAB listening equates to a 18% share of all listening hours but also achieves 26.8% share of all weekly reach.

Digital TV (DTV) – There are many stations (mostly Bauer Passion Portfolio) available via DTV, they can be found towards the end of the Freeview programme guide. DTV listening is 4.7% share and 14.3% reach

Internet listening – The new industry initiative, Radio Player, has helped increase the online listening of radio stations and recently announced over 6 million unique users in a month. As a single station Absolute Radio lead the way in online listening. Internet listening has a 3.7% share and a weekly reach of 10.4%

Smartphones – 85% of stations have a smartphone application and recent data shows that 2.2 million people have downloaded a radio application. Unfortunately listening via smartphones is not specifically measured by RAJAR, however, respondents are asked if they have ever listened to radio via a mobile phone, to which 15.8% of Adults and 32.4% of 15-24s have responded positively.

Some more Digital facts

  • There are 13 National stations available on DAB
  • There are 150 radio services on DAB (note: a lot of these services which are replicated across more than one area, such as Kiss being available in Scotland as well as London, etc)
  • 32% of adults have now listened to the radio via the web (ever)
  • Podcasts can also come under the ‘digital’ remit and 8.1 million people claim to have downloaded a podcast
  • Games consoles which are connected to the net are giving listeners access to Internet Radio

For further information on Digital Radio Advertising why not contact the specialists at

(Source: RAJAR Q3 2011)