LONDON: Far from cannibalising radio audiences, new audio formats are growing overall listening hours and can help extend campaign reach for advertisers and improve ROI, a new study has claimed.

The Radio Advertising Bureau undertook quantitative and qualitative research for its Audio Now report to better understand the role of the various audio options in consumers' lives, from streaming and online clip services to traditional radio and owned content in the form of CDs etc.

It found that in 2014, UK listeners were consuming some 1.47bn audio hours every week, a 5.5% rise from 2012. And within this total, broadcast radio listening had "remained more robust than media and music industry forums might suggest". Some 90% of the population, and 88% of 15-24 year olds, tune in to radio on a weekly basis, figures that have remained broadly stable over the past five years.

And when non-advertising audio sources were excluded, live commercial radio accounted for 93% of listening hours, on-demand commercial audio making up the balance. Among the younger audience radio still dominated, albeit to a lesser extent, the proportions being 71: 29.

This is hugely valuable information for advertisers, noted Michael Williamson, head of radio for Carat. "The likes of Spotify, DAX and InStream should be used on most audio campaigns but should be upweighted when targeting younger audiences," he suggested.

The report also identified a number of "need-states" that audio addressed and where live radio and on-demand audio typically played complementary roles. Thus live radio might be the choice when people were looking for a bit of external input, for example in the Lift My Mood need-state, while on-demand audio was the choice when they wanted to be in control, or in the Amplify the Moment need-state.

Williamson noted that this "provides advertisers with nice distinctions when planning audio campaigns".

Radio has long been used for activation purposes by advertisers but the report argued it had a role to play in brand building as well. Not only did it deliver reach, but it created an emotional response, whether through music or phone-ins.

And an analysis of the IPA Databank by Les Binet for the report also revealed that campaigns which included radio had a much higher financial return than those which did not.

Noting that radio accounts for around 22% of the time people spend with media but only 6% of display advertising revenue, the report argued that the advertising business was guilty of underinvesting in audio.

Data sourced from Radio Advertising Bureau, Carat; additional content by Warc staff