[Inside Radio]

As African-Americans, and particularly Millennials among them, continue to expand their influence on mainstream America, companies are working to reach this group with customized campaigns, as well as products and services to meet their specific needs. That’s good news for radio stations, as advertisers continue to address the demo.

A new Nielsen study, “Young, Connected and Black,” explores the media habits of African-American Millennials, along with their broadcast preferences.

“The U.S. is increasingly diverse and younger, which has largely been driven by Millennials,” Nielsen points out. There are 83.1 million Millennials in the U.S.; African-American Millennials comprise 14% (about 11.5 million) of the age group. Meanwhile, African-American Millennials comprise 25% (about 11.4 million) of the total Black population. That population expanded 21% between 2004-14, standing currently at 46.3 million, and representing 14% of the total U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census.

Looking at African-American Millennials’ weekly time spent on devices, Nielsen’s study says that their top choice is live or time-shifted TV, to which they devote 32 hours, 51 minutes per week. That’s followed by the 13 hours, 28 minutes spent with apps and the web on smartphones, followed by radio, at 11 hours. After that, usage dips to 8 hours, 29 minutes for web surfing on PCs, 3 hours, 47 minutes for video surfing on PCs and 3 hours per week spent with game consoles.

When it comes to traditional radio, African-American adults have different preferences than Millennials. Black Millennials favor urban contemporary (hip-hop) while African-Americans 35+ prefer urban AC. Nielsen notes the multiyear growth of urban contemporary among both demo groups: From 2012–16, the number of urban contemporary stations increased 23% (178 to 219) while the number of rhythmic radio stations decreased 3% during the period (213-206). Radio stations playing hip-hop have seen listenership increase at the expense of more pop-oriented formats such as rhythmic.

In the second quarter of 2016, the study says that among African-American Millennials, 33.3% favor urban contemporary, followed by 21.1% that listen most to urban AC, 10.4% to rhythmic and 0.8% to urban oldies.

In terms of advertising, TV captured the largest share of Black ad spend in 2015, up 11% compared to 2011. In that four-year period, broadcast TV ad spending focused on African-American audiences increased 255% and syndicated TV ad spend increased 55%. Nielsen credits this to an increased diversity of primetime programs on mainstream networks that featured predominantly Black casts and/or leading Black actors.

Radio was second among advertising categories in 2015. Total TV spend reached $100,968,232 last year, while radio topped out at $5,947,802. These were followed by outdoor, newspaper, magazines, coupons and business-to-business.

Nielsen adds that to effectively reach African-American consumers, a multimedia approach is best, as older African-Americans engage more heavily with TV and radio, while Black Millennials are also connected through social media, mobile and live video streaming.