“In­stead of a huge de­cline in lis­ten­ing lev­els, data showed a shift in de­vices be­ing used to con­sume ra­dio.”

SARAH MESSER, di­rec­tor at Nielsen, on the ef­fects of Covid.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - By SARAH MESSER, di­rec­tor of me­dia, Nielsen MENAP

March 23, 2020. It’s a date that is scrib­bled in thick black marker on the wall plan­ner in my kitchen. That’s the date Nielsen closed the doors of its UAE of­fices and sent us all to work from home for ‘a while’ to safely wait out the on­com­ing pan­demic. ‘‘IN­STEAD OF A HUGE DE­CLINE IN LIS­TEN­ING LEV­ELS, DATA SHOWED A SHIFT IN DE­VICES BE­ING USED TO CON­SUME RA­DIO.”

Those first few days for most peo­ple were a flurry of ac­tiv­ity – “holy-moly, I’ve got two kids who need home-school­ing/ three dogs/a squawk­ing par­rot/a wife or hus­band also work­ing from home/ no suit­able of­fice to make 12 hours of video calls com­fort­able/and my wifi can’t sup­port a 15-per­son meet­ing and Net­flix…” [delete as ap­pro­pri­ate]. And then, as the so- called new nor­mal started to set­tle in, and we ven­tured out of our home co­coon once ev­ery three days for emer­gency pur­poses and gro­ceries only, we started to re­alise just how much the world out­side had changed. Noth­ing on the roads, no one walk­ing the streets, empty su­per­mar­kets. Si­lence.

From the me­dia con­sump­tion within our own house­holds alone, we all sus­pected some­thing had changed. I for one as­sumed ev­ery­one was tun­ing into the news more to see the lat­est up­dates, and per­haps more TV screen time to fill the empty hours. And surely the big­gest ca­su­alty was go­ing to be ra­dio... si­lence isn’t a word we gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ate with the ra­dio in­dus­try.

At Nielsen, we mea­sure all ra­dio lis­ten­ing in the UAE from peo­ple aged 10+. In Q4 2019 – and show­ing ab­so­lute con­sis­tency with the same met­ric across all mea­sured quar­ters since 2017 – more than three quar­ters (78 per cent) of ra­dio lis­ten­ing hap­pens while trav­el­ling. With no com­mut­ing, and no school run, we were sure there would be a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on ra­dio lis­ten­ing in Q1 2020. There was in­deed an im­pact, but it was not as we had ex­pected. In­stead of a huge de­cline in lis­ten­ing lev­els, the first quar­ter 2020 ra­dio data showed a shift in de­vices be­ing used to con­sume ra­dio con­tent and the time of day of con­sump­tion; an in­crease in lis­ten­ing via digital through the in­ter­net and mo­bile, and day-part lis­ten­ing shifted to later in the day, a pat­tern we usu­ally only see dur­ing Ra­madan months.

There were some over­all de­clines in to­tal lis­ten­ing lev­els, of course; the lack of com­mut­ing had to have some toll. But it looked to us as though peo­ple were loyal to their choice of ra­dio sta­tions and made sure there was still room for ra­dio in their stay-at-home lives.

In­ter­est­ing in­sights were also ob­served by the Nielsen US Au­dio team in these early lock­down days. The US is a very estab­lished ra­dio mar­ket that Nielsen has been mea­sur­ing since the 1930s. The US broad­cast­ers were won­der­ing the same thing: Are we los­ing all our lis­ten­ers? On March 26, Nielsen US re­leased the re­sults of a study that showed ra­dio was be­ing used as a trusted source of in­for­ma­tion, keep­ing peo­ple both in­formed and con­nected dur­ing the lock­down. They also noted that lis­ten­ing was shift­ing to more de­vices.

Our lis­ten­ing di­aries seemed to be show­ing sim­i­lar pat­terns as well. So, were peo­ple us­ing ra­dio as one of the medi­ums to stop them go­ing lock­down ga-ga? We at Nielsen UAE wanted to know more so we launched an on­line sur­vey in mid-April to a na­tion­ally rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of res­i­dents in the UAE. The pur­pose of the study was to un­der­stand all me­dia con­sump­tion un­der lock­down and what was chang­ing. We found some fas­ci­nat­ing be­hav­iours.

Peo­ple who said they were now con­sum­ing less TV claimed to be con­sum­ing other me­dia in­stead. When asked specif­i­cally about ra­dio lis­ten­ing, more than two fifths (43 per cent) of peo­ple said they were lis­ten­ing to less ra­dio in the car. How­ever, in­stead, many peo­ple were in­creas­ing their lis­ten­ing to ra­dio in dif­fer­ent places; 35 per cent claimed to lis­ten more from home, 33 per cent more on tablet or mo­bile de­vices, 35 per cent more on a com­puter or lap­top, and 31 per cent were lis­ten­ing to more ra­dio pod­casts. Those who were con­sum­ing ra­dio in these places were on av­er­age all lis­ten­ing to about 2 hours of ra­dio per day.

A fi­nal but use­ful data point from this study, that should speak to any mar­keter who has been think­ing they should re­move ra­dio from their plans; we asked peo­ple how com­fort­able they are with ad­ver­tis­ing be­ing placed in var­i­ous types of me­dia – from news to sports con­tent, TV shows and movies, web­sites, etc. Of all the me­dia listed, ra­dio re­ceived the high­est score for UAE res­i­dents be­ing com­fort­able with ad con­tent be­ing aired around pro­gram­ming.

Is ra­dio rel­e­vant, cur­rent and im­pact­ful? Ac­cord­ing to our data, you bet it is.

Sources: Nielsen UAE RAM Q4 2019 and Q1 2020; Nielsen Sur­vey on Sen­ti­ment and Me­dia Be­hav­iour April 2020; Nielsen Au­dio US sur­vey March and June 2020.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.