2021 audio predictions and trends

Dec 2020  RadioWorks Blog

audio predictions

As we approach the new year, we thought we’d take a closer look at factors likely to push the audio advertising industry forward. Here are our audio predictions and trends for 2021.

  1. Reliance on audio remains strong

Over the past year, listeners have become more dependent and connected with audio for means of entertainment, companionship and distraction from the clamour of Covid-19. More time spent at home has led to impressive growth in audio consumption throughout the year:

  • Overall listening has increased by almost 10%
  • Connected listening surged by 41%
  • More than 1/3 of British commercial radio listeners tuned in for an extra 1 hour and 53 minutes each day

Unsurprisingly, In-home listening has been the growth area where radios are turned on and left on throughout the day to improve the mood of its listeners. We foresee this habit continuing well into 2021 with our evolved way of working and modified way of life at home.

At the same time, research indicates growing confidence in radio as a source of news, with an impressive 74% of listeners tuning in for this very reason. Radio has proven its strength in this area with launches of Times Radio and LBC, securing stellar guests.

Additionally, according to a recent Ofcom survey, radio remains the most-used source for news and information about Covid-19. This further supports the conclusions of the annual Eurobarometer survey, which found that radio has been the most trusted medium in Europe for 10 consecutive years. With the road ahead still very uncertain, and as we head towards the new year, we expect listeners will continue tuning in to find out more about Brexit and the latest rules and restrictions of the pandemic.

  1. Radio remains the second most valuable medium after TV for successful marketing in a recession

Within the overall media mix, Radio remains one of the strongest mediums for:

This is all the while being able to be targeted at a low-cost. Misconceptions about radio and its effectiveness could result missed opportunities for growth in the new year. Marketers will need to consider whether they have the right evidence to support their proposed media mix, and whether it can be optimised for the best return on investment with the presence of radio.

  1. Music streaming and podcasts

While radio has remained incredibly significant to many listeners, music streaming has allowed people to unwind and relax under their own rules. This is reflected by way of playlist creation. With more people socially distancing and working from home, reports show that people are changing the way they stream and create playlists.

  • 1,400%+ increase in work-from-home themed playlists
  • Approximately 50% increase in DIY stylists creating at-home haircut playlists
  • Creation of garden-themes playlists grew by more than 430%
  • Nearly 40% increase in cleaning-themed playlist creation
  • Streaming via gaming console grew by 51%
  • Streaming via desktop grew by 26%
  • Streaming via speaker grew by 59%

Podcasts were one of the immediate audio growth areas back in March. Themes and verticals listened to have evolved over the year – from news and mindfulness, to comedy and business. Listeners and revenues will continue to grow due to its ability to directly access content with host reads as well as define a brand through clever targeting.

  1. In-car listening is making waves with new tech

Connected cars incorporate radio and audio services into their on-board infotainment systems. Research shows that consumers value radio in the car:

  • 82% of car buyers saying that they would never consider a car without a radio
  • 84% of them “always” or “mostly” listen to the radio on every journey. Therefore, the integration of radio apps, web players and device integrations in cars is a key priority for the radio industry.

Car radios are already becoming more sophisticated than ever before. As and when we return to our cars, our radios will be able to access a tri-platform hybrid radio app (DAB+/FM/IP) which will allow users to select a radio station from the strongest available signal, prioritising DAB+, then FM, followed by streaming, and automatically switching between platforms if the car moves out of coverage. This means that drivers and passengers alike can stay locked into their favourite stations and enjoy the music and shows they love. The opportunities for targeting and engagement will only continue to increase.

  1. Listeners are more connected and engaged than ever

The way we listen to radio today is evolving. With the entry of smart speakers and other connected devices, listeners are able to access their favourite stations beyond traditional means.

Measuring engagement of radio ads has never been as straightforward as other mediums. With the rise of listening via smart speakers, being able to engage with your Alexa is very much a technology where listeners will be able to order samples or brochures or even donate directly to a charity. All through an ad. We expect a rise in adoption of these technologies as well as “shake” ads which direct you to a URL when listening to the ad on your mobile. As the ‘QR code’ has made a comeback this year, the text response weaved into the creative is something we are seeing real returns on.

  1. Radio ad spend is expected to rise

 Although overall radio revenue is down (circa 15% YoY), it is expected to rebound 10% in the new year. Radiocentre’s latest research indicates that more than a third of advertisers are looking to increase radio spend in 2021. Some sectors will be slower to return, but many brands are returning and staying.

  1. Creativity and engagement coming more to the fore in audio campaigns

While we expect technology to continue to play a pivotal role in the ways in which we communicate with consumers, we can’t dismiss the shared experiences of 2020 and the efforts that brands took to connect more with audiences. As a result, we anticipate creativity and engagement coming more to the fore in campaigns. It’s a great irony of the industry that creativity is so much easier to provide with audio, and yet the execution of messaging is often dictated first by visuals. It’s the most efficient and effective medium to be creative with, and we think 2021 is going to be boom time for brilliant copywriters.



More News

As the temporary norm evolves, we’ll keep updating you with the latest news and research, and why audio is such an important tool in light of the current climate. For more radio or podcast advertising insight, call a member of the team or get in touch here.

For more industry news and views, visit www.radioworks.co.uk/latest-radio-news/


Sign up to the RadioWorks Newsletter and receive the latest radio and digital audio news, insights and trends, plus all-new sponsorship opportunities straight to your inbox.

Get in Touch

If you want to find out more about advertising on commercial radio stations or digital audio platforms in the UK or internationally – we can help!

Get in touch here and we’ll talk you through the process and deliver the best audio solution for you.



Call us to plan your campaign

0207 907 0670 / 01228 580 380

The RadioWorks Group