Ears more receptive to advertising than eyes

Radio is more of a 'mood' medium, according to a new study.

Radio listeners are more accepting of radio advertising than they are of ads on TV or the Internet, according to the latest report from the Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab (RAEL) of NYC, Personal Relevance Two: Radio’s Receptive Ad Environment. Why? Because the emotional connections they have to their favourite stations extend to the ads. Also, they consider radio ads to be more relevant to them and the products that interest them.

In the study, RAEL delves more into the psychology of radio advertising than the mechanics, as it has in past years, by comparing emotional attributes, perceptions, and receptivity to each medium.

Emotional strengths:

  Radio Internet TV Newspapers
Improves your mood 58% 5% 22% 4%
Makes you relax 46% 6% 32% 8%
Comforts you 43% 7% 27% 5%
Helps you have a good time 43% 11% 36% 2%
Makes you feel motivated 43% 13% 16% 10%


  Radio Internet TV Newspapers
Repeated too often 45% 53% 59% 9%
Gets in the way of enjoyment 37% 57% 50% 11%
Appears at inconvenient moments 24% 60% 43% 14%

Although radio elicited stronger personal connections – personal mood enhancement, personal motivation, personal comfort – participants gave the Internet higher marks for helping them understand what is going on in the world, broadening perspectives, helping to solve problems, and giving information that can be shared with others.

Television was perceived as more social and group-oriented than radio and a better medium for helping to understand the world events. Newspapers triggered information-oriented connections in the minds of consumers: broadens your perspective; helps you understand the world around you; gives you information you can share with others; and gives you topics to talk to other people about.

Demographic differences and similarities (radio)

Women had only slightly stronger emotional reactions to radio than men, but men indicated strong patterns of radio ad receptivity. There were no statistical differences between males and females on any advertising-related statements or for the ad annoyance statements. There was a tendency for older age groups to show stronger ratings on receptivity factors.

  Women Men
Improves your mood 63% 54%
Have a good time 49% 37%
Heightens your senses 30% 24%
Overcome hardships 32% 25%

There were slight differences between age groups in the reasons for tuning to radio. ‘Improves your mood/makes you feel positive’ ranked highly in all age groups but highest with adults 35 to 44. ‘Helps you have a good time’ scored strongest with those aged 18 to 24.

  18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54
Improves your mood 54% 58% 64% 56%
Have a good time 50% 40% 47% 38%
Overcome hardships 30% 29% 32% 20%
Helps pass the time 23% 23% 34% 29%

Advertising relevance

There were some differences in relevance of radio advertising between age groups.

  18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54
Reaching me personally 17% 18% 24% 30%
Reach intended target 31% 27% 34% 39%
Ads are fun 21% 12% 18% 18%

Advertising tolerance

Interestingly, the study found that those who listened to oldies or urban radio station formats were more tolerant of advertising than other listeners. Respondents aged 18 to 24 indicated more antipathy towards ads and are generally annoyed by ads in any medium.

Ages 18 to 24 – high ad annoyance

  Radio Internet TV
Repeated too often 51% 57% 54%
Get in the way of enjoyment 42% 50% 54%
Appear at inconvenient moments 31% 39% 60%

The Personal Relevance study is the first in a series of research projects by RAEL focusing on ‘Radio and the Consumer’s Mind: How Radio Works.’ The next installment, which explores the synergy between radio and the Internet, is in the field now and will be released early next year.

RAEL is an independent organization established in 2001 and funded by the radio industry. The Radio Marketing Bureau (RMB) is RAEL’s main Canadian partner.