Radiocentre: 2024 is a year of opportunity for radio

Radiocentre Chief Executive Officer Matt Payton writes about the 12 months ahead for radio.

A new year always provides a sense of opportunity and a new start. New year’s resolutions still seem fresh (and achievable), the Christmas leftovers are finished and the sounds of Christmas songs on the radio have faded. But as Slade famously reminded us again this year – we have to look to the future now, it’s only just begun!

2023 was a year of significant milestones for commercial radio, as it celebrated 50 years with record audiences and new innovations. This achievement in our 50th year is a feat that some newer media may never enjoy, so Radiocentre felt it was right to mark these important moments while emphasising the enduring strength of radio and audio as it is today. As part of this we outlined our action plan for the future and formally extended our remit to support and promote all forms of audio from commercial radio broadcasters.

Looking ahead our focus will be to build on this statement of intent and put it into practice, as we continue to deliver on our mission to get industry influencers and advertising decision makers to See Radio Differently. By doing this we will be able to help ensure 2024 is a year of opportunity and growth for radio and the whole audio market.

To support this Radiocentre will be spreading the word on the power of audio across all areas of our work. We are especially focused on ways in which our marketing, events and insight can do even more to meet this challenge. Our Tuning In events now reach more people than ever, through a combination of live events, streaming and catch-up, with a broad range of radio and audio themes aimed primarily at clients and ad agencies. Our next event will be Tuning In Midlands in Birmingham on 7th February, followed by further sessions later this year.

Our award-winning research and insight will continue to play a crucial role, as we build more evidence to make the best possible case for the power of radio and audio in driving effectiveness and performance for brands. We already have more publicly available evidence than any other medium. We need to build on this impressive record as listening and advertiser habits continue to shift.

We start from a strong position. The audio advertising offer from commercial radio broadcasters is best in class and firmly at the heart of a vibrant, growing market. Not only does it provide reach, scale and opportunities for targeting, it also benefits from radio’s well-earned reputation for reliability, brand safety and trust. These themes always come through strongly as being important for both advertisers and listeners, so this is another area that we are planning to explore further with more insight and evidence.

Trust in radio and its ability to cut through with audiences, many of whom are not big news consumers overall but are more likely to vote than average, is especially notable during a general election year. While the date of the election is still uncertain it seems likely that we will see a new government in 2024. As a result, Radiocentre will be working hard to ensure we continue to build and maintain our strong relationships with all political parties during a time of upheaval and change.

Fortunately, most of our immediate priorities for legislation should be settled in the first half of 2024, assuming the Media Bill remains on track and becomes law. This will represent a major step forward in securing the future of radio online, while sweeping away analogue-era regulation. At that point the focus will shift to Ofcom, which will have even greater responsibilities for managing the future of audio and will oversee the new regime.

While media policy issues are unlikely to be high up the agenda of any incoming government, we will also need to be ready to respond to the perennial issues of the role, remit and funding of the BBC, along with its audio and digital ambitions.

2024 will not be without its challenges. The ad market remains tough, reflecting the broader economic picture. But the continuing success of audio, its growing audiences, the opportunities it provides for advertisers to engage with these audience in different ways, as well as the progress that has been made in shaping the future, mean that the foundations are strong and the opportunities are greater than ever.”