Is it Time to Tune Back Into Radio Marketing?

How many people still listen to the radio?

More than you might think, it seems. Despite a plethora of streaming services allowing users to listen to content of their choosing on demand, recent figures from Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) – the official body for measuring radio audiences in the UK – show that 88% of UK adults tuned in during the last quarter of 2023 for an average of 20.5 hours each week.

That’s around 49.5 million of us listening to live radio per week for just over one billion hours.

Digital – predominantly DAB and online – accounted for more than 70% of listening time, with the use of mobile phones and devices like smart speakers on the up. More than 60% of people listened at home – perhaps due to more of us working remotely (and where colleagues can’t criticise our music choices!) – 25% whilst driving and just 14% at work.  

The standout stat for me, however, was the listening figures for commercial radio – those stations that are funded by advertising revenue – which hit a record high.

What’s more, commercial radio collectively attracted 7.8 million more listeners than the publicly owned BBC, and more than half (54%) of all listening hours.

I have written previously about the unrivalled, if expensive, reach of TV in advertising. With radio seemingly undergoing a revival, could taking to the airwaves prove a more cost-effective way to boost your brand?

A fine line

Above the line marketing such as radio and TV is seen as old hat by some in the industry who favour more targeted below the line methods such as SEO, social media marketing and pay-per-click.

The latter are likely to be cheaper and return on investment easier to measure, which makes them an attractive option for those having to justify spend, but it almost certainly won’t reach the same volumes of people.

Think about your end goal. If your aim is to build brand awareness or communicate a message to a mass audience rather than reach a specific group, then radio may well be worth considering. Smaller, local stations can also be useful in reaching regional groups, for example, patients who may have been victims of clinical negligence at a particular hospital trust.  

While perhaps not as precise as below the line methods, it is also possible to measure how well radio is working by monitoring how many enquiries are received around the times that your ads are on air.  

I recommend trialling any new campaigns for at least three months to test their effectiveness and it's worth talking to radio stations to see what they can do for you in terms of cost. Content providers, such as those supplying traffic and travel news, will have ad slots that may be cheaper.

Stations also often have creative teams who can work with you to produce the most impactful ads that tell listeners who you are and how you can help, why they should trust you and how to get in touch.

The right balance

Every good marketer knows that the secret to successful marketing is… there is no secret. It is a continuous learning curve as different channels emerge and consumer habits change.

It’s about trying to find the right combination for your business and your budget. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and try new things, but don’t assume they will give you the best return.

As well as radio programmes, an increasing number of stations now also offer on demand services, produce podcasts, put on live events and interact with thousands of listeners via social media.

Businesses have become increasingly digitally orientated in recent years, but the RAJAR figures serve as a useful reminder that the more traditional channels aren’t ready to be written off just yet.


It seems you are using an outdated browser.

This will impair your browsing experience around the web. Please visit one of the links below to update to a modern browser then re-open the site with the new browser.

Thank you

Download our White Paper

Download our White Paper

Can't find what you are looking for?

We are open as normal during the Coronavirus lockdown and are able to help with all your legal needs.

Call us free of charge

0800 567 7866

Request a Callback

Continue browsing