The three Ts: the key behind the radio breakfast show

How can advertisers capitalise on this deep and meaningful relationship, asks the group MD, advertising, at Bauer Media.

The latest Rajar results showed further growth for the radio industry. 89% of the population tune into radio every week, with an average of 21 hours of live radio weekly per listener; commercially, the Advertising Association and Warc have predicted a 3.3% ad spend rise this year.

Last year, radio was the only medium other than the internet to gain share of total adspend, showing that advertisers are definitely seeing the opportunity in radio. When looking in more detail at the listener’s radio day, the breakfast show continues to be one of the nation’s most loved traditions, with 77% of the population getting out of bed to it during the week. But what is the key to the success of a breakfast show and how can advertisers capitalise on this deep and meaningful relationship?


Trust is a good place to start, as it is a live and very important conversation currently happening across the industry.

There are many layers to this, but at its heart is the importance of context – something that seems to have fallen down the priority list for brands and agencies. The context of breakfast radio is crucial; time and time again we hear listeners talk about how it sets them up for their day, providing reassurance within busy lives as well as social currency, be that a new song, news or a presenter anecdote.

Radio is a highly emotional medium, which gives consumers a sense of connection and community, especially at the start of the day, alongside a functional need for information such as travel and weather. Commercially, this translates – brands attract more positive sentiments when advertising on breakfast shows due to the context in which their messages are heard and this translates into significantly higher purchase consideration*. Breakfast radio shows also consistently deliver higher levels of spontaneous and prompted awareness for brands and their campaigns (Source: Bauer Media Radio Campaign Effectiveness Database 2005-2017).


Secondly, breakfast radio has stand-out talent. Whilst the combination of audience insight and editorial talent is always crucial for our media brands, this is particularly true for breakfast radio. The consumer’s decision to choose to wake up with an external voice in their house is a personal one and despite the growth of many streaming services, morning radio continues to play a key part in many people’s lives. Breakfast shows have always been known for catapulting their hosts to stardom – think Chris Tarrant, Lauren Laverne and Zoe Ball.

There is also a strength in bringing in talent who aren’t necessarily known for radio and using their influence and following to build their careers in the radio world. For example, we’ve seen real success at Key 103 with Gemma Atkinson on breakfast and are looking forward to welcoming Ronan Keating to Magic later this year.

These days, an advertiser’s relationship with influential breakfast show talent is key – Kiss’ Rickie, Melvin and Charlie (who last week celebrated retaining the number one national commercial breakfast show title!) work closely with partners such as Three to keep the content in line with what they know the listeners will love. 

Over at Absolute Radio (the second national commercial breakfast show), Wickes is in the fifth year of its partnership with Christian O’Connell’s breakfast show. Christian and his team are at the heart of that long-running partnership, integrating Wickes into the editorial fabric of the show. Last year, the partnership extended to the Early Breakfast, allowing them to speak to tradesmen on their way to their first job, as well as a more casual DIY audience from Christian’s show – key audiences that match Absolute Radio listeners.


The breakfast show is a key playground for technological innovation for the wider radio industry.

Properties such as InStream+, which allows commercial partners to more accurately target listeners thanks to its ‘logged in listening’ proposition, provide a genuine exchange between advertiser and consumer – who wouldn’t prefer to listen to more relevant ads?

The likes of Wickes, Jaguar and Lidl have seen real success in this space and we are moving this on to allow brands to serve personalised creative across the network, something we believe has huge benefits for clients. The morning has been home to ground-breaking tech such as allowing listeners to tune into the Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show across all extensions of the Absolute Radio brand, with music to match – you could be listening to Christian make fun of co-presenter Richie Firth accompanied by the best of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, rock, or the Absolute Radio main station.

Three has taken the Kiss breakfast team everywhere from Las Vegas to the Snowbombing Festival in Austria and has provided an opportunity for branded in-app playlists. In addition, voice-activated technology such as the Amazon Echo is another platform for consumers to access morning radio; recent Radiocentre research showed that radio is the second most used function on the device between 6-9am.

So breakfast radio drives impact for clients, holding its place as a key part of the UK’s media mix. With technological innovation and world class A list talent, brands should consider the advantage that speaking to consumers early in the day could give them, alongside the context of the trusted radio environment – a golden combination.

Abby Carvosso is group managing director, advertising, at Bauer Media

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