Five Takeaways From The New Edison Research Audio Study

Ron Rodrigues, Sr. Audio Strategist

Since 2014, Edison Research’s Share of Ear study has documented how the people in the U.S. use audio, in all its forms. Judging by the just-released Q3 2019 survey, the shift to personalized, digital audio options has accelerated to a full-on gallop. Here are five examples of the analog-to-digital audio transition, courtesy of Edison Research’s Share of Ear:

1. Digital Listeners Use More Audio. Share of Ear was the first to conclude that people, on average, spend four hours a day with audio media. That’s impressive, but when we dug a little deeper into the Q3 findings, we noticed that people who listened to streaming or podcasts spent an additional daily hour with audio! Five hours, instead of four – nearly a third of our waking hours – and clear evidence that personalized content leads to greater engagement.

2. AM/FM Ads Are Reaching Fewer Listeners. The radio industry PR machine loves to tout its ginormous weekly reach. However, each new Edison report reveals that those listeners are spending less time with AM/FM, and shrinking faster among key advertising demos. Here’s a practical explanation: among persons 25-54, the audience for an AM/FM ad is 27% smaller than it was in 2014.

3. It's Clear Where Those 25-54s Migrated. They’re consuming much more streaming audio. Daily streaming time rose 9% among 25-54s in just the last year. Overall, Pandora is the No. 1 advertiser-addressable platform in this space, with a 77% advantage over the No. 2 brand.

4. Listening Is Changing Behind The Wheel, Too. As automakers load their dashboards with new audio options, drivers are responding. In just the last year we have seen a 12% boost in streaming time spent, and a whopping 19% boost in satellite time spent, in cars/trucks. These trends coincide with an 8% time spent loss with AM/FM in the vehicle.

5. Multicultural Listeners Are Digital Trendsetters. The Share of Ear study found that African-American listeners use 48 additional minutes of audio per day, and 34% greater share of streaming audio, than the general market. Hispanic listeners listen to 20 added minutes of audio, 26% more streaming share, and 31% more podcast share than the general market.

How Do These Takeaways Affect Advertisers?

These new findings paint a dramatically different audio landscape than what existed just a few years ago. The data reflect a clear and rapid shift to new, personalized audio content on easy-to-use digital media devices. The good news for marketers: they can speak to listeners who’ve switched to digital by adjusting their media strategies accordingly.

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Over the last five years, time spent with streaming, podcasts and satellite radio have come at the expense of AM/FM listening time.

Sources: Edison Research Share of Ear study, Fall 2014, Q3 2019. AM/FM listening online was credited to the AM/FM category. Listening trends based on average daily minutes.