The past two years have created a number of changes within the media landscape – specifically within radio in South Africa.
Radio currency experienced significant changes with the intention of future proofing currency due to the rapidly evolving audio space. Further to this, data collection methodologies were reconsidered to accommodate hurdles or challenges that may have been present in South Africa as a result of Covid-19, hard lockdowns, gated communities, social unrest or any other social barriers that may impact effective data collection for a currency grade research solution.
The new BRC RAMS Amplify currency has taken best in practice scenarios from global research, as well as local learnings, and applied this to their data collection principles, overcoming many of these barriers by making use of telephonic interviews (day after recall) and a panel, whilst providing a world class solution.
The new BRC RAMS Amplify currency has almost been in play for a year and has provided the industry with a clear indication of the performance of radio in South Africa. Radio audiences remain healthy, with 79% of the population indicating that they listened to radio during the latest interview period (April 2021 to January 2022, BRC RAMS Amplify) and the medium still remains highly relevant in the lives of South Africans despite the seismic shifts in the audio landscape.
The relevance of radio during Covid-19 has largely been driven by the human need for connectedness. This was amplified specifically during the hard lockdown, with stations being able to provide a sense of familiarity during the unknown. However, currency has not been the only change in the world of radio, with many broadcasters having to pivot their businesses to adapt and change to the new listener needs and listening behaviour.
While lockdown restrictions have begun to ease and we have gone back to a more ‘normal’ way of life – and we’ve seen a normalisation in listening behaviour, the new currency allows us to be more proactive as advertisers and broadcasters as the data is released more frequently. As broadcasters, we’ve had to become more agile and adaptable, with data playing a pivotal role in our understanding of our audience’s needs.
Being listener led and flexible will be key to the success of stations delivering relevant solutions in the new normal. When we examine the data from our various data points, within the Kagiso Media Radio stable (Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio) and we unpack drivers to station choice, we note that whilst music is a driver (and this is more of a hygiene factor), local news, traffic, and weather all become important factors, thus there is still a need from listeners for hyper localisation as well as connection to their community.
However, a noticeable shift in the listener journey has been how they have broadened their media and audio ecosystems. This has been accelerated during the pandemic. To reaffirm this finding, when examined the recent Infinite Dial 2022 South Africa research results, which delve into the audio behaviour of South Africans in major metro areas – specifically in upper SEM groupings.
We note that there have been significant changes in the South African audio ecosystem, with many of the trends picking up significantly and specifically in terms of a visible increase in streaming, podcasting, and online radio listening.
Access to data is a major barrier to access in terms of adoption of these alternative audio streams by consumers, however, South Africa had the second highest smartphone ownership when compared to global counterparts at 90%, once again highlighting the need of South Africans for hyper connectivity.
Data costs in South Africa have gradually been decreasing across the various networks and data services providers, but they still have a way to go in order to make data affordable to all. As a result, mobile audio strategies are going to become increasingly more important – if not vital, when considering the audio ecosystem and the various touchpoints that make up the listener journey.
Further to this, online weekly listening is up from 32% to 52% and average time spent listening to online streaming audio is up. With the recent government promise to make free data available to all South African households, this rollout is likely to have a positive impact on audio consumption, as well as audio production innovation as internet penetration and access to these services becomes easier.
However, terrestrial and traditional radio still make up the bulk of listening behaviour in South Africa, but there will certainly be further changes in audio behaviour.
So, as broadcasters and advertisers, who will be at the forefront of these audio shifts and is your business going to be ready for the new audio revolution?
Melissa McNally holds an MA in research psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has over 15 years of industry research experience and has worked with some of the largest commercial radio brands in South Africa. McNally is currently the research and analytics manager at Kagiso Media and sits on the BRC Board, the BRC Radio Research Committee, and the NAB Funding Committee. She is actively involved in industry research and has been involved in driving the research efforts for the South African Infinite Dial study.
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