Share of Ear Update: What We’ve Learned About the Latest Digital Surge

We have new findings from the Edison Research’s Share of Ear study, the only tracking survey that measures the entire audio landscape, that this evolution from traditional to digital is accelerating. Share of Ear has been gauging how Americans use audio since 2014, and while the amount of audio we hear every day (four hours) hasn’t fluctuated, changes in our listening choices have been dramatic.

Open up a sales kit from most AM/FM radio stations, and the first number you’ll see is “92%.” That’s AM/FM’s reach, the percentage of the population that hears a radio station at least once a week.

While reach is one of the important building blocks to an effective ad campaign, radio’s glossy brochures aren’t likely to reveal much about a vital engagement metric: time spent listening. That’s because, as listeners make the switch to personalized digital audio, radio’s time spent is on a cliff, battling the forces of gravity.

Here are the top findings from the Q1 2019 Share of Ear study:

Digital’s Device Adoption Helped to Shape A New Listening Paradigm Now that mobile devices have saturated the population, and waves of people are adopting connected media devices, usage with the streaming audio services, satellite radio and podcasts shot way up. These gains cost AM/FM 33 minutes of daily time spent listening – going from 137 minutes in 2014 to 104 minutes this year.

A Sizable Slice of Audience Has “Gone Digital” for Good... Over 30% of the population eschew AM/FM in favor of a digital-only audio diet. As a result, AM/FM has lost a quarter of its listening hours since 2014.

…This is Especially True Among Young People Young listeners started the digital revolution and there seems to be no going back: 42% of people aged 18-34 do not listen to AM/FM at all in a given day and time spent with AM/FM fell a jaw-dropping 40% -- plummeting from 114 minutes in 2014 to just 68 minutes daily this year.

The Swing to Digital, Especially Among 25-54s, Is Accelerating This is the prime age group for new connected car and connected home devices (including smart speakers), all of which are drawing a surge of new digital listeners. The result: the 5% annual decline in AM/FM time spent surged to 7.2% in the last year.

For Advertisers, Digital Options Open New Doors to Innovation and Accountability Advertisers can follow audiences as they listen to an ever-growing share of digital audio, and at the same time enjoying all innovative ad products, accompanied by better measurement and a higher level of accountability. Radio’s time-spent losses are not just a theoretical, whiteboard challenge for broadcasters. These declines directly impact the GRPs and AQH ratings that advertisers use to evaluate their campaigns, and they must buy additional ads to hit their reach and frequency goals.

What Does Share of Ear Study Say to Advertisers?

  • The four hours of audio that we use every day is a vital reason to have an audio marketing strategy.
  • Advertisers who wish to “be where their customers are” should take note of the dramatic share shifts underway: already, 18-34s spend more time with digital audio than they do with traditional; nearly 30% of 25-54s do not listen to AM/FM daily anymore.
  • Advertisers can address all of their key audiences digitally: People aged 25-54 are leading the adoption of connected car and connected home devices. This helps to explain, for example, why 25-54s are a leading demographic for podcast listening.
  • This digital adoption curve opens a host of new digital audio solutions: innovative targeting and creative executions, programmatic pipelines and a higher level of accountability.

To learn more about the audio landscape and the array of digital audio ad solutions, download the 2019 Definitive Guide to Audio.