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  • Bob Freas

Podcasts vs Radio: The Similarities and Major Differences



There are many similarities between podcasts and radio. For starters, they are both audio-related mediums. There is also some common ground when it comes to how and where people listen. For example, it could be in the car on the drive to work, during exercise, while cleaning the house, or before going to bed. Other commonalities include how podcasts and radio shows are produced, how popular they are among their listeners, and how both mediums offer advertising.


There are also many differences between podcasts and radio. Podcasts are typically created as a series of episodes related to a specific host, guest, or topic. Shows are archived on the web and people listen daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Traditional radio is broadcast over the airwaves using radio frequency. Most AM/FM channels are specific to the market where each listener lives. Radio is also connected to the web with many listeners tuning in online with stations like TuneIn, IHeartRadio, and free versions of Pandora and Spotify.


With that being said, I decided for this article that I would choose 3 major differences to focus on and compare. Let’s take a look:


Schedule

When it comes to a schedule as to when you can listen, podcasts offer a bit more convenience. Podcasts range anywhere from 30-minutes to several hours in duration depending on the format. They are usually pre-recorded but even when streamed live, they are archived online so listeners can go back and listen or watch episodes at their convenience. Most people listen from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.


Radio is on air 24/7 and it's almost always live. Most shows are broadcast everyday M-F. Each weekday is broken down into 5 dayparts: morning drive time (6:00–10:00 a.m.), midday (10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.), afternoon drive (3:00–7:00 p.m.), evenings (7:00 p.m.–midnight) and overnight (midnight–6:00 a.m.). Most listen to the radio in their cars, on alarm clocks, or home stereo receivers.


Audience

You can easily target within podcasting because most shows are about a specific topic or area of interest. Therefore, listener demographic data is widely available for advertisers to be able to narrow down how and where to reach their specific audience. It’s also important to remember that podcast listeners are engaged listeners that are choosing the specific episode they want to take time listening to.


Radio audiences on the other hand tend to represent a certain geographical area first then the demographic information comes into play. However, this can be to an advertiser’s advantage if the goal is to promote a local or regional brand. Radio listeners are usually loyal to a particular station. Some interesting numbers include that 68 percent of homes have at least one radio, with the average home having 1.5 radios as of 2020.

Content

For starters, the FCC does not regulate podcast content. There are really no restrictions on language or topics. Think of it like the premium cable channels on TV. As for advertising within each episode, that can include host read ads, sponsorships, audio ads, and endorsements just to name a few. Recently I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience, and I noticed pop-up advertisement cards on the episode homepage that linked to an advertiser’s landing page that was likely tracked by a pixel to relay all of the important data once I clicked on the link.


In comparison, the FCC does regulate broadcast radio. So, there are things deemed unsuitable for listeners although the FCC dictates less stringent requirements for the programming aired between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. With more local and regional listeners, radio content includes things like local news, politics, sports, and weather. The advertisements will speak directly to the listeners and typically include a call to action. For example, you may hear ads for a local car dealership, bank, or jeweler.


Which Medium is Best for Advertising?

The answer is both. Podcasts and radio both provide advertising opportunities for businesses to get their message across and build awareness for their brand. It really all depends on who you are trying to reach and when, where, and how you want to reach them. Looking at the numbers it’s safe to say that neither podcasts nor radio are going anywhere anytime soon. With podcasts, $1.4B was spent on ads in 2021, over $2B is expected to be spent by the end of 2022, and over $4B is expected to be spent by 2024 (IAB). As for Radio, more Americans listen to the radio than use Facebook each week. Yes, you read that correctly. According to Nielsen Media Research radio listener statistics (2021), 88% of Americans listen to terrestrial (AM/FM) radio on a weekly basis.. When it comes down to utilizing podcasting and radio in our planning, we may use both, one, or neither depending on our objectives. Here at A3 Media, we research every opportunity and medium to best achieve our client's goals. Essential factors like target audience, markets, budget, costs, creative, and negotiations all come into play. In the end, we believe it’s always a proper media mix that will garner the best results for our clients!

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