Radio industry urges advertisers to spend more on the medium

Shifting ad money from radio to social media is not justified, says 2fm head Dan Healy

Radio revenues are forecast by media agencies to fall again this year. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ireland’s radio sector is calling on advertisers to “rethink” their attitude to the medium, arguing that the strength of radio is being ignored in a race to invest marketing budgets in digital media.

Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) figures published on Thursday show that almost 3 million people – or 82 per cent of adults – listen to Irish radio on a daily basis, and that they listen for an average of four hours and 12 minutes a day.

"Advertisers also need to rethink their approach to media buying," said Gabrielle Cummins, who chairs the Choose Radio group that represents radio sales houses.

“The most common approach among media buyers is to focus on digital and online advertising. I would challenge that thinking based on today’s JNLR results which proves the strength and reach of radio,” said Ms Cummins, who is also chief executive of southeast station Beat 102-103.


Irish people have “a unique relationship” with radio and are loyal to their favourite stations, she added.

Her comments were echoed by head of 2fm Dan Healy, who oversees radio advertising at RTÉ.

“We have a dynamic radio sector and some great radio stations. Radio in Ireland is alive and well, and we need advertising agencies to understand the power of this media.”

Social media

Mr Healy said he didn't believe the shifting of advertisers' budgets from radio to social media platforms such as Facebook was justified. "Radio is the first social media," he said.

Advertising revenues across the radio market, which is about €110 million in size, are estimated to have dropped 5-6 per cent drop in 2016, a year of stellar growth for digital advertising.

Radio revenues are forecast by media agencies to fall again this year.

In a survey of marketing decision-makers by MediaCom Ireland and The Irish Times, 20 per cent of those who plan to invest more in marketing this year identified radio as a target. However, this compared to 74 per cent who said they planned to spend more on social media marketing.

MediaCom Ireland chief executive Peter McPartlin said recently that he “absolutely” believed in digital, but when he returned to the agency world after four years of running Today FM he “could see how digital-obsessed it was”.

Ireland’s radio-listening habits, while strong, have been under pressure in recent years, with stations aimed at younger audiences reporting difficulty in recruiting new listeners.

Among people aged 15-34, 76 per cent listen to radio daily, and their average listening times are more than an hour shorter per day than people aged 35-plus. The decline in listening has also been more pronounced in Dublin than in the rest of the State.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics