How Black audiences are engaging with audio more than ever – Nielsen - Social Media Explorer

Content is the common language for African Americans. U.S. Black Americans spend more time in media than any other population. Content engagement is what drives the most popular hits and trends. Black customers are increasingly taking control over their media and economic influence and investing in Black communities, Black content, and Black experiences. The Black community accounted for nearly $1.6 trillion in collective buying power. As the media industry looks to be more inclusive of Black storytellers, while growing its bottom line and brand awareness with Black audiences, understanding who they are, where they’re connected and how they’re changing is as important as ever. Black audiences connect with audio.

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Tuning into radio’s potential 

Black listeners continue to use radio, reaching 91% of Black population per month. In fact, Black listeners spend more time with radio than any other group—20 minutes longer than the average of the total population.

Black persons 18+ reach weekly metrics

  • Radio: 86%
  • Smartphone app/web 81%
  • Live/time-shifted TV: 78%
  • 48% of smartphone users stream audio via streaming:
  • Satellite radio: 15%

Source: SME Comparable Metrics, Q3 2021

Black-owned radio stations are a major part of that engagement. They reach more than 6.8 million African Americans each week. Jim Winston, President of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters emphasized the important connection to Black-owned broadcasters: “SME’s latest report helps to quantify the unique impact Black-owned radio has within our communities. It’s a reminder of the opportunity for brands to engage and partner with Black-owned broadcasters to connect with Black consumers in an authentic way. Advertising with Black-owned television and radio stations offers an important and unique opportunity to connect with our communities and deliver messages for brands from voices Black consumers trust.”

Advertising with Black media offers advertisers the chance to work with people who have a special place and knowledge within Black cultures and communities.

Black radio listeners place great importance on brand reputation. New brand reputation is a key factor in 84% of homecare switchers, while 37% will switch to personal care if they have a better brand reputation. Many listeners to Black radio have the option of switching providers. According to the survey, 44% are more likely change cell phones carriers within the next year and 15% to change auto insurance over the same period.

Podcasting has a positive momentum

The Black community is increasing their podcast listening and engagement, which presents a significant opportunity for media companies and brands. Over the past three year, 70% of Black listeners have used podcasts.

Podcasting’s positive momentum is drawing more celebrities and big advertising dollars. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), ad revenues will reach $2 billion in 2023. This is nearly 2.5x what was generated by podcasting last year, which was $842 million. 

Importantly, podcast advertising—particularly when read by the host—drives stronger brand recall punch than more traditional forms of advertisements. For example, SME’s Podcast Ad Effectiveness (PAE) solution has found that host-read ads drive a brand recall rate of 74% for Black audiences.

We also have additional SME PAE data:

  • The 16% increase in awareness due to exposure to podcast ads was higher than the 14% SME norm
  • Average 68% believe that the sponsorship/ad was a great fit for the podcast.
  • 70% intend to listen to similar podcast content and 62% will share it with friends.
  • 50% of those surveyed were capable of recalling the ads on an unaided basis.
  • Nearly half of the podcast listeners (46%) thought the content was most entertaining. Just four percent (39%) believed the content authentic and nearly four out of ten (39%) considered it credible. 

Audio is used by Black people for entertainment. Especially during pandemics, it was an important source of news and information. It also provides a way to escape the stresses of everyday life. Brands and agencies have an immense market opportunity to prioritize marketing strategies and campaigns to meet this valuable audience where they are connecting—on audio.


This article’s data is derived from:

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