Is This Regional Radio’s Era? CRA Expands Regional Rating System

Microphone in a professional recording or radio studio

Commercial Radio & Audio (CRA) will be expanding its ratings measurement system to include more regional areas.

CRA CEO Ford Ennals said the regional radio audience measurement schedule will grow to 22 this year, compared to 20 last year.

“We know commercial radio stations are vital to regional and remote communities and we want to get a deeper understanding of regional listeners and their listening habits,” said Ennals.

The methodology will also include additional research methods Paul Amos, Xtra insights managing director said.

“Xtra Insights uses Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing to conduct surveys. This year, we will launch online survey sampling in eight markets,” said Amos.

“In 2023, 20 surveys were completed in regional Australia, representing 52 commercial stations. With 16,800 successful interviews the listening habits of 2.9 million Australians aged 10 and over were revealed.”

Ford Ennals

Is this regional radio’s era?

The move comes at a time when the fortunes of regional radio are looking brighter than its metro cousin.

In SCA’s recent interim results, regional radio was marked as an area of growth with regional ad revenue up 2 per cent, compared to a 2.2 per cent drop in metro markets.

The profitability of SCA’s regional offering was noted by ARN media chairman Hamish McLennan when he first discussed ARN’s unsuccessful takeover bid.

He spoke about the importance of a “growing and profitable regional radio footprint of 88 stations delivering a compelling regional network for advertisers and communities”.

The CRA’s decision to expand its regional ratings will no doubt be welcomed by Boomtown Chair Brian Gallagher who has long been vocal about the absurdity of focusing too much on metro areas.

Growing up in Maitland, a city just outside of Newcastle, Gallagher said he got a shock when he arrived in Sydney as a rep for NBN Television only to find that, essentially, no one in ad land cared about regional.

“I’m cruising into the advertising agencies to talk about campaigns and I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe it. People said to me: ‘regionals? Not on the schedule”.

Brands that do opt to advertise to regional Australians stand to make big gains – last year Telstra-owned budget mobile phone company Belong won B&T’s Best Regional Media Campaign at the B&T Awards after it used regional advertising to increase uplift in 5 out of 8 of its target markets.

It has recently upped its regional spend in response to the campaign’s success. 

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