There’s Only One Thing “Primary” about the 2016 Presidential Race: Radio!

Recently, Katz Media Group launched its Local Vote 2016 research initiative, a state-level political polling effort with a media compass. We’ve already polled 3257 registered voters in advance of their upcoming primaries and linked their political intentions and beliefs with Nielsen’s Scarborough database of local media behaviors. Continuing through May, Katz’s Local Vote effort is ambitious and sheds new light on the variety of interactions voters have today with media — as well as the dominance of mass media like Radio.

Despite our fascination with all things “digital”, analyses like Nielsen’s Comparative Media Reports point to just how meaningful traditional media -like Radio — is in the daily media diet. The media and advertising industries often get caught up in the next innovative opportunity for clients. It’s understandable and oh-so-interesting, but is it reliable and do these investments stand the test of time? So much of our media consumption is disposable today that we forget the value of consistency. Radio is unapologetically not a fad, but a remarkable survivor throughout 100+ years of great media disruption. Since its inception, radio has weathered the introduction of television, motion pictures, cable, satellite (radio & TV), personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, ad-skipping technology and social media, just to name a few. And while the power of “mass reach” may not be “de rigueur” conversation for today’s target-driven marketers, there is something powerful to be said for radio’s ability to still dominate ALL other media (including television) in reaching the most number of people regularly across all audience segments. Yes, even 9 out of 10 Millennials are engaging with radio daily. These young arbiters of trends have not only stuck with radio (unlike their abandonment of live TV) , but are now being touted for their role in the resurgence of — wait for it — vinyl.

Perhaps that’s why, when we look at the followers of candidates like Bernie Sanders (known for his appeal to younger voters), Radio is tops among media choices (93% of Sanders supporters use Radio daily) and Cable TV ranks the lowest (80%) of any candidate supporter groups. Audio Streaming (online radio, as well as pure plays like Spotify) also rank highest for Sanders supporters versus other candidates. Radio is a force to be reckoned with in the political space. Not only does Radio rank tops with almost all candidate supporters, it is most dominant among “Undecideds” (95% use Radio daily, 2–4 points ahead of the next media alternative).

But is it really worth comparing media that arguably reach the majority of the population? It is if you want voters to actually get your message. Remember that reach only factors in unique audience, not how long or how often the audience engages. The Katz study proved that a third of all Undecided voters spend twice as much time with radio as they do with TV (1 hr 52 mins daily v. 52 mins). That translates to a significant portion of undecided radio listeners being twice as likely to get your message as undecided TV viewers.

Perhaps you’ve gotten this far into the blog and are now thinking, ”but what good is “reach” if I can’t target my audience?” Ah, but you can! Radio is the original targetable media — and now with data science, so much more can be done. Take Denver, for example (below). In the radio landscape there are a plethora of format options that are highly targeted choices among particular political groups. When you think of Radio and politics, I’ll bet you’re thinking “News/Talk” radio — and you’d be right if you were trying to court Mild Republicans or Ultra Conservatives in Denver, but you’d be missing the opportunity to engage Uninvolved Conservatives (Adult Contemporary) or even Conservative Democrats (Modern AC).

Katz Media Group analysis of Nielsen Voter Ratings data.

The truth is that mass media is actually the ONLY place you can achieve reach AND target-ability — and that matters greatly when you are introducing a new product (like a candidate) to the world. Targeting is a fantastic device for connecting with groups you’ve already identified as potential consumers or voters — but what about those groups you haven’t predicted or have no data yet to mine? That’s where reach — and mass media like radio — will always be essential.

Skipping radio in your media plan is a lost opportunity. In the marketing world, there’s always time to course-correct and bring new consumers to the brand. In the political world, however, it’s winner take all. And the last time I checked, every vote counts.

For more insights from Katz Media Group’s Local Vote 2016 study, contact Stacey Lynn Schulman or review the latest insights here:

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