Latest Rajar figures reaction: ZenithOptimedia, Havas Media, MEC, Gekko

The latest Rajar figures revealed that Radio 4 has overtaken Radio 1 in listening figures, while the Radio 1 Breakfast Show has lost more than 1.1 million listeners since DJ Nick Grimshaw replaced Chris Moyles. The Drum caught up with some industry figures to find out their views on the figures.

Chris Hayward, head of investment, ZenithOptimedia

Radio is a fascinating medium, one that’s vastly underutilised by brands, but I think that could be about to change. For a long time, radio (like TV in many respects) referred both to a medium and the device upon which it was consumed. Whether it be a car radio, an office radio or a pocket radio, the differentiator was purely the context it happened to sit within. Today, radio can be consumed through your TV, phone, laptop – and probably even your fridge before long. The medium is no longer being tied down to a device, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for brands for two main reasons. Firstly, we now have access to data that allows us to understand and target audiences more closely than ever before. Digital listening is increasing, so while that total listeners figure holds steady at approximately 90 per cent, listeners are still tuning in, but finding new ways in which to do so. By having that smartphone accessibility, radio provides another way to reach listeners in brand new contexts. Secondly, as brands start to shift bigger and more sustained investments into earned media, there’s an opportunity for some real innovation through the creation of rich, relevant, branded content. As we’re seeking to better understand the newer platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and the like, we shouldn’t overlook what radio has to offer too – particularly with over a billion hours’ worth of consumption per week.

Scott Braniff, investment director, Havas Media

The Capital radio brand is now the biggest commercial radio brand in the UK as Global radio continues to show growth. 7.7 million people now tune into Capital each week and Capital in London remains the station with the most commercial listeners at 2.2 million. With the launch of a new star-studded TV campaign and continued investment in brand extensions such as Capital Xtra, we can only expect the Capital brand to thrive. However, the competition for hit music listeners is truly on as Kiss continues to perform alongside brand extensions Kisstory and Kiss Fresh, with the network now attracting 5.1 million. The Bauer Passion portfolio also continues to grow delivering record numbers of 7.6 million adults each week. 35.6 per cent of all radio hours are now consumed via a digital platform and more than half the UK population tune in digitally every week – this is a 13 per cent increase on this time last year. Love him or hate him, Nick Grimshaw and the Radio 1 breakfast show has recorded its lowest share of audience in 16 years, down from 7.5 per cent this time last year. Again, this news and his ongoing bromance with Harry Styles will probably overshadow the Rajars.

Jason Steele, social media director, MEC Global Solutions

The increased availability of mobile devices and choice of apps, along with better connectivity in more locations has resulted in significant year-on-year increases (14 per cent) in radio listening via digital platforms. The latest Rajar figures highlight the same trends we are seeing in the television industry; as long as audiences can access great content wherever they are, they don’t care about which platform or device they use. It’s important that when integrating radio and music services into their strategies, brands are being flexible enough to deliver content experiences that mirror this multi-platform trend, rather than considering channels in isolation. It’s also been reported that platforms like Shazam will start to tailor their offering for radio in the same way that they have for branded television ads. If this is indeed the case, there will be great opportunities for brands to provide additional content and drive engagement in a more connected way. The prevalence of Spotify will also have had an impact on the figures. The popular digital music service offers a wide selection of radio stations to listen to as well as Tunein Radio. Spotify also operates a web player so users now don’t even need the app to stream radio. In the US iTunes radio is now a native option within iTunes operating 200 channels with an additional 25 editorial channels. This option will be available in Europe in the coming months, and will bring with it the opportunity for brands to use the placements available within the services to tailor ads and drive traffic to online experiences like video, pre-orders or app downloads.

Daniel Todaro, MD at Gekko

What stands out to me is the extent to which our lives are so increasingly dominated by smartphones. Convergence is an oft-used term, but radio consumption in particular provides a stark illustration of the speed at which this is happening. Consider back in Q1 of 2011 when the iPhone 4 was still very much a novelty for most consumers and less than three years later consumption in the 25+ category almost doubled, while the age group fuelling this shift - the 16-24’s - has jumped from 28.6 per cent to well over 40 per cent. With digital listening increasing across DAB, Digital TV and online through PCs and laptops, it too paints a portrait of how our lifestyles are being fundamentally altered by the technology around us. Everything is so easily accessible and radio is no longer restricted to specialist devices. Far from being a platform in decline, I think the possibilities for brands to engage is ever-increasing as the way in which we engage and interact with radio changes. Particularly as our current 16-24’s grow older and give way to a new generation of even more highly connected, digitally savvy youths, we’ll soon know of radio only as a medium.”

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