Audio: building a lasting impact on a changing landscape

Jun 2020  RadioWorks Blog

audio landscape

RadioWorks Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Dennis-Jones looks at the key drivers for audio’s success in today’s changing landscape, as well as factors to consider in the near future.


At RadioWorks we are always proactively looking to the future and enter every year thinking and forecasting about how the audio industry will evolve. Streaming, podcasts, smart speakers have all added to the audio mix and complimented the power of Radio. Did we think this much would change this fast in the last few months? We did not! How the audio industry has adapted decisively and sensitively to the virus outbreak has been impressive.

By maintaining a responsible tone and continuing to deliver quality mood-enhancing content it has allowed audio to remain the true companion it always has been. As Radio presenters present from home and streaming services deliver the right content for all moods so needed by consumers at this time. It makes us all reassured that we are all in the same boat and mindful of how we are all feeling – staying relevant, yet empathetic.

A true companion medium

Radio remains the most trusted media (Radiocentre) and more than ever, trust is critical given the volume of conflicting news reports that we’re bombarded with daily. Beyond the national and networked stations, regional radio is playing a vital role in providing trusted news. Stations up and down the country have kept their listeners up to date on all fronts relevant to the local community. We’ve seen numerous studies which point to a local radio preference with listeners in search of latest news and information as cities and towns comfort each other. Ultimately, radio’s relevant and incisive insights are keeping us all informed, as well as lifting our spirits with great music and clever virtual experiences. A true companion medium.

The landscape and the new “normal”

From a media perspective, it’s important to note how well the industry has adjusted to the new normal. Considering the extraordinary became the ordinary so rapidly, at RadioWorks we have to thank media owners who have helped our clients move, pause and repurpose their ads to ensure the least amount of disruption; something that the sector should be applauded for and may be reflected in spend when the real “normal” returns. The logistics of providing and communicating new packages and integrated solutions to reflect the new world has been impressive as the situation continually changes.

Much like the whole industry, we have adapted to the new norm. At RadioWorks, we have collaborated with our agency and media partners to provide insights into this shifting landscape. Assessing how audience behaviours have changed during this period, as well as finding the right channel and tone of communication are of the utmost importance. More importantly ensuring that clients are able to deliver the messaging they need, while helping new clients navigate their way onto the airwaves. Internally we have had to get used to a new way of communicating while keeping our studios open remotely and our media team focusing on new opportunities and the challenges of video conferencing all day! It’s been exciting and challenging – but very fulfilling.

As everyone’s work and life balance has been disrupted, we will also need to think differently about how we reach and influence all audiences in the morning and drivetime areas. We have seen in the past month that peaks via streaming devices are now between 10 am and 4 pm. Streaming devices have taken on a new role in congested households in the past few weeks. While these insights reflect the behaviours within a ‘lockdown’ environment, it will be intriguing to see if and how quickly we return to more traditional habits as businesses begin to reopen.

The uncompromised quality of audio

Just as the audio industry itself has adapted, as has the way we create audio commercials. Wherever possible we have tried to get our clients to think differently. To focus on message, platform and context, adjusting each accordingly in order to continue to communicate effectively with their consumers.

If I had to select one piece of audio that’s stood out for me over the last few months, it would be one that Maple Street Creative made for Tesco. It’s an ad that stands up as an ordinary commercial with purpose and call to action, but everything else about it; the vocabulary, the tone, the music, the space, and the context are all in tune with the mood of the country. It demonstrates to the audience that Tesco care enough to change things, even when they probably didn’t have to. They could have re-licenced an old ad for half the price, but instead, they went the extra mile. People notice these things.

The challenge going forward for advertising will be to sell confidently within the context of the times. We’ve seen data comparing the current crisis to the SARS outbreak and the Asian Flu pandemic, but where my mind first went was to 1994 and the awful tragedy of Dunblane. The way that the media collectively changed its voice in the immediate aftermath was unifying and sincere. As the UK surpasses 40,000 deaths registered to Covid-19, it’s clearly a tone that would be appropriate once again.

Final thoughts

Audio as a whole has proved its strength in these times with such a high level of use and reach across multiple touchpoints. Listeners will have discovered new stations, new playlists and new podcasts. While radio will retain the majority of listening, more opportunities will present themselves across device led listening giving the consumer and advertiser more audio moments than ever before.




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