97.2% of all Malaysians are listening to radio in 2016
Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2016
19 Oct 2016 – The annual Commercial Radio Malaysia Conference was held at Nexus@Bangsar South to highlight GfK’s recent findings about the current state of Malaysian radio.
Titled “What? Radio Is Already Digital?”, the event organised by CRM discussed the future of radio in light of the findings published by GfK, the independent data analytics company partnering with CRM to provide advertisers and media buyers insights into Malaysians’ listening habits via their Radio Audience Measurement system.
The event sponsored by TM was spearheaded by a panel of distinguished radio experts, including Lee Risk (Commercial Director of GfK Asia), Seelan Paul (CEO of Media Prima), Jayaram Gopinath (Head of Astro Radio Digital), Erin Hwang Bin Bin (General Manager of Sales for Star Media), and the keynote speaker for the event James Cridland (Radio Futurologist and award-winning copywriter).
According to Lee Risk, 97.2% of Malaysians listen to radio, which means that it is in fact still one of the largest platforms available to advertisers.
The research shows that the average listener clocks up just over 2 hours of listening time per day. The most common place for Malaysians to listen to the radio is at home (75.6%) followed by in the car (64.4%). However, listeners aged 18 – 34 prefer to use newer forms of technology to listen to radio. 33.5% tune in via their mobile/smart phones, as compared to the national average of 28.9%. This reflects the changing lifestyles of young Malaysians, and highlights a need for radio to continue evolving with the technology of the times.
So what gives radio its enduring popularity? A deeper analysis finds that 70% of respondents said that they “can listen to it anytime and anywhere” and 66% of them said that “radio keeps me company”. If asked whether they would miss their favorite radio station if it was cancelled, 64% of respondents said they would miss it “a lot”. It is evident here that radio’s strength lies in its accessibility, and its role as a substitute for human company is also what makes radio so companionable.
As such, radio is an important resource for advertisers. For Malaysian listeners, radio advertising makes a brand more appealing (80%), more trustworthy (74%), more authentic (72%), and increases loyalty (68%). Because radio spots primarily exist in quick soundbites, their strength lies in the call to action, said Risk. The response or conversion rate is particularly high for adverts informing customers about short-term promotions. Coupled with the fact that 97.2% of Malaysians are listeners of radio, this makes it exceedingly effective for quick dissemination of information.
Radio is also making the biggest inroads into digital media, with 42% of all radio listeners providing their feedback and comments on their preferred radio station’s social media platforms. In comparison, only 28% of all TV watchers engage with a station’s associated social media platforms. In terms of penetration into all major social media platforms, radio is one of the bigger players and thus should be used by advertisers to its fullest extent.
After Lee Risk’s talk, radio futurologist James Cridland was invited to deliver a talk titled ‘Radio’s Future’. According to Cridland, the future of radio rests on three key points: Content, Technology and User Experience. In order for radio to maintain its relevancy, it has to keep producing good content that people will want to hear. Secondly, it needs to utilise the most up-to-date technology of the times. Finally, radio needs to fine-tune the user experience so that people find it easy to engage with.
One example of this is pop-up radio – a radio network’s satellite stations that can broadcast more specific content without impinging on the main station’s regular music schedule. This gives radio stations more freedom to produce creative content, allowing them to do things such as broadcast crucial news updates in real-time (such as in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial), play artist-exclusive music (Today Network’s Radio Gaga, Australia) and even have different sub-stations for every decade from the 60s to the 00s (Absolute Radio, UK). In the case of Absolute Radio, the addition of its sub-stations has doubled its total listenership volume between 2009 to 2015, allowing advertisers to buy twice the airtime as compared to before.
Cridland stressed the importance of putting radio on as many different digital media platforms as possible to reach the largest number of people. Existing creative solutions include rebroadcasting a show’s best content later in the day, playing content on-demand on the station’s website (already being utilized by the BBC’s iPlayer), and recording shows as podcasts to be released on iTunes and downloaded at the user’s convenience.
Currently, smartphone technology seems to be the way forward for radio. There are already mobile apps on the market that not only broadcast radio stations, but go one step further in user customisation. For example, NPR’s radio app changes its songs and news stories based on the user’s preferences, not unlike Facebook’s newsfeed-sorting algorithm. A simple tweak of NPR’s algorithm has been shown to increase user listening time by two-fold.
In summary, radio’s strength is the sense of companionship that it provides listeners – this builds long-term brand loyalty. Furthermore, radio is very easily integrated with social media, and has the potential to draw on the strengths of digital platforms with an ease unrivalled by TV or print. This is exemplified by radio’s willingness to push forward with novel ways of dissemination such as pop-up radio, podcasts and mobile apps. Taking these modern-day developments into account and adding the fact that 97.2% of Malaysians listen to radio, it can be concluded that radio is not being left behind – on the contrary, it is at the forefront of the digital revolution.
Presentation slides are available for download: