Audio has ‘never been more exciting’ for advertisers

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 22 February 2019
Ashley Earnshaw

The significant boost to digital radio ratings proves the industry’s investment in the medium has paid off, according to Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) CEO Joan Warner.

This week CRA revealed the number of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radios grew by 930,000 last year in Australia, helping to boost average weekly audience for digital-only radio by more than two million.

Warner told AdNews the boost to digital is the result of the industry’s hard work in maintaining radio’s popularity in a fast-evolving landscape.

In 2018, the radio ratings included digital ratings as separate survey data for the first time to raise awareness around the growing medium.

“The radio industry has invested in a robust reliable future broadcast technology that is easy for listeners to access. It remains free, live and local with additional choice and content,” Warner said.

“Australian radio is one of the most innovative radio industries in the world and, internationally, is viewed as a model of maintaining and growing listeners and revenue, despite intense competition from other media.

“One of the characteristics that makes radio so accessible and widely used is its ubiquity.”

Warner said Canberra, Darwin and Hobart are next in line to receive permanent DAB+ digital radio services over the coming months.

To help roll out the service, Warner said it will continue to seek funding from the Federal Government, as the TV industry received for its digital switchover.

CRA’s latest figures showed that more than 4.21 million people listened to DAB+ digital radio each week in the five metro capital cities in 2018, up from 3.62 million in 2017. This figure makes up 30% of the population aged 10 and over.

Media buyers excited about audio
Warner’s optimism that the medium’s growth means new opportunities for advertisers was echoed by Amplifi chief investment officer Ashley Earnshaw.

“There has never been a more exciting time in the audio industry as technology and mobility drives deeper opportunities in audio,” Earnshaw said.

“Audio environments add a lot of value for our clients to reach their audiences. We are pleased to see that through DAB+ digital radio we are getting more opportunities to connect brands with consumers.”

Key players in digital radio include Coles Radio, Edge and iHeartRadio. The last ratings survey results showed an increase in listenership for Edge, reaching 83,000 listeners while Coles followed with 59,000 listeners.

Earnshaw said radio’s evolution into an audio proposition has provided better branding, more diverse environments and technology growth, particularly in new cars, to drive listenership.

“The existing growth of audio has influenced our buying strategies – we no longer buy radio, we buy audio end to end across multiple touch points,” he said.

“Our clients are keen to be connected to consumers in brand safe, targeted, engaging and trusted touch points. The growth of DAB+ and more broadly, audio opportunities, means we have options to meet those requirements.”

However, Earnshaw added that measurement across the audio ecosystem, such as podcasts and streaming, remains a challenge that the industry needs to solve.

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