New Research: Connected Insight

Staff Writer

ARN has released some new research that provides insights into how audiences engage with content, connect with on air talent, and use radio and other key media thought-out the day to elevate their mood and re-energise.

The research was commissioned by ARN as part of its ‘Connected Insight’ series, to better understand audiences, create tailored listening and content experiences and put insight at the core of advertiser solutions.

The ARN study by  Pollinate used online diaries, where 40 participants were asked to record their emotions across a five day working week and explain what role content and media played. Pollinate  also carried out 12, two hour in depth interviews to gather stories and look deeper at the connection points. A 1600 person quantitative study was also carried out to establish metrics.


The Findings:

The research found audiences experience a strong positive emotional connection with radio which they use to get them moving in the morning, battle the midday lull and re-energise on the commute home. This challenged the traditional view of how drive time radio was used by audiences to wind down, with the research showing audiences now look to ‘wind down’ after 9pm with a focus on TV and on-demand streaming services.

The ARN research identified the media channels and content formats that audiences use most to uplift them throughout their day, including Facebook, music streaming, radio, reality TV and TV streaming– which aid in uplifting emotion and evoke positive emotional sentiment through the ups and downs of the day.

Also key to the research was to explore how audiences connect with on air talent. Participants identified a very strong feeling of connection with on-air talent – they represent ‘super friends’ – people who are funnier, more entertaining and more interesting than their actual friends. Participants said they felt they had been ‘let in’ on the intimate details of presenters’ lives and this builds strong and personal connections

Anxiety and frustration are common emotions that people are managing in their day to day lives, with anxiety and depression levels at its highest levels in 2015.

ARN want to understand what role media channels and content play in mediating emotions and transition points across the day, with the day being broken into 5 key daily habitual moments:

·         Getting up and ready

·         Going to the next place (school work etc)

·         Their mid-day lull

·         Going home

·         And winding down


Media channels and content consumption is prolific and ubiquitous right across the day, before our foot touches the floor in the morning and even after we are in bed in the evening.

When looking at all media through the qualitative study it became clear that out of all the channels and content being consumed, audiences are turning to very specific channel verticals and formats to aid in the navigation of the day, assisting through the emotional waves across the day.

Facebook, when using this social media platform, audiences feel highly stimulated and completely absorbed, but they can leave the experience feeling demotivated and frustrated when they feel a disconnect with the content

Reality TV helped audiences unwind and was widely used to ‘switch off’. Audiences felt calm when watching reality TV, but over time they often are left feeling bored and irritated – which could be why we see the dual screen phenomena – people turning to their phones whilst watching TV

TV streaming, is a complete ‘switch off’ and dedicated escapism for audiences. As it is content that is individually selected for a specific time and place, audiences felt in their ‘happy place’ and experienced zero frustration.

Like TV streaming, music streaming was also a great ‘pick me up’ and source of ‘discovery’ for audiences who saw it as guilt-free entertainment. Music streaming offers multiple positive sentiments with strong satisfaction –Again, audiences feel control over what they are consuming.

Radio was seen as the ultimate uplifter, with listeners identifying a strong emotional connection to presenters and music as they throughout their day.  Audiences turn to radio, often as part of a habit or routine, but by the very design of radio, leave audiences feeling very much connected, part of the present and now, making their feel happy and taking them to a happy place.  Radio leaves audiences feeling re-energised as it mediates an emotional transition point in their day.

So what is it about radio that leaves audiences with this connection?  Three fundamentals were found to be instrumental in making that connection work.


  • Talent – considered super friends, funnier, more entertaining and interesting, an intimate connection as they let me in to the personal details of their lives
  • Content – making people feel uplifted and energised and taking them on a journey as they listen throughout the day – the core elements being MUSIC, CONNECTION, POPULAR CULTURE, HUMAN STORIES
  • Touchpoints – Radio has an innate ability to flex, evolve with fluidity in the ever-changing media landscape, extending experiences much further than what comes out of the speakers each day.

And it’s all about the share.  The strong connection between radio and its digital and social platforms means that, on average, 40% of the audience are sharing content from radio’s social platforms through their own social platforms.  This figure sits well ahead of industry average.

This strong connection is evident in how audiences engage with and share content across social media with people following up on stories they hear on air, actively checking the stations Facebook page, following them on Twitter and Instagram & sharing content on their own social media.

This research piece is the first in ARN’s ‘Connected Insight Series’.  Series 2, diving further into understanding our audiences and their media consumption, will be released later this year.

Of the research, ARN CEO Tony Kendall said: “At ARN, a deep understanding of our audiences is at the core of our strategy. Whether it’s our listeners or clients, our success as a business is measured by the strength of our content and commercial offering and how well we meet their needs.

“Radio is much more than audio and in the past five years it’s exploded across multiple platforms, particularly with social, and understanding how audiences engage in this dynamic environment helps us to deepen the relationship we have with that audience.

“These findings help ARN further develop out content offering as we look to increase the time our audiences spend with us across all platforms. By better understanding what uplifts audiences, and when and why audiences are looking for content, we can curate our content and deliver audiences the content they demand through multiple touchpoints and align advertiser solutions.”

Of the research findings ARN’s National Agency Sales Director Matthew Granger said: “This in-depth study, in partnership with Pollinate, is the first in a series of research ARN will be conducting, as we look to further unpack how and why audiences engage and connect with content. This series of research deepens ARN’s ability to deliver market leading, insight led solutions for our clients” 

Vanessa Morrison, Head of Qual and Strategy at Pollinate said: “Using both qualitative and quantitative research, this was one of the most in-depth media studies our team has done. Our aim was to understand audience behaviour and specifically what makes a good and satisfying radio experience, whilst we suspected audiences gravitate to stations because of the connection they felt to the talent & the music, the discovery that there are many aspects of radio that people connect with and that connection goes beyond the listening experience was a significant finding.”

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