Source:, April 2020

Data and analytics emerged as a critical tool for radio sales teams long before the global pandemic turned the world upside down. Now it’s helping sellers identify which advertising categories are seeing increased consumer demand as a result of stay-at-home orders and health concerns. And that can be helpful for targeting new client prospects or maintaining existing business.

Charity, restaurants/food/beverage, agriculture/farming/gardening, education, home improvement and retail are the verticals for which web traffic is growing during the COVID-19 crisis. This is according to data from iHeartMedia Analytics, which analyzed web traffic from thousands of businesses during active on-air and digital campaigns to identify those experiencing web lifts during the crisis.

Charity topped the list of gainers with a 25% boost, led by campaigns for first responders (+26%) and religious organizations (+26%). With consumers ordering essential sustenance items online, it should come as no surprise that web traffic for grocery stores shot up 48% since the pandemic began. But Americans are also indulging in ice cream and bakery (up a whopping 84%), alcohol (+34%) and restaurants (+25%).

With springtime planting season here and cooped-up consumers looking for healthy pursuits, web traffic for nurseries/gardening shot up 60%, livestock/feed grew 23% and farming equipment ticked up 12%. With a mission that learning hasn’t been cancelled even if face-to face classes are, the education category grew 14% while home improvement increased 8%. Within home improvement are sub-categories that posted double-digit gains: HVAC/windows (+26%), spa/hot tub (+25%) and pest control (+12%). Retail also made gains but within certain sectors: firearms (+120%), pet supplies (+36%), thrift stores (+19%), games (+16%), gym equipment (+8%), mattress (+6%), and home furnishings (+4%).

The data was shared with marketers during an online iHeartMedia Virtual Summit entitled “In-Home Marketing Boom,” which featured presentations from a group of the company’s Senior VPs of Digital.

The summit also updated advertisers on how consumer media behaviors have shifted during the pandemic. As expected, watching TV/movies is up significantly: +68% among 18-34s, +71% for 35-54 and +75% with 55+. Using mobile devices also saw sharp growth, especially among Millennials (+67%). Listening to music/podcasts saw gains of +45% among 18-34s, +37% with 35-54 and +24% for 55+.

Even with in-car listening disrupted, the virtual summit presented research findings showing that 23% of respondents said they are listening to more radio now. And more than one third (36%) said they are spending more time with music and podcasts – across all devices but especially on smart speakers.

The summit also presented internal data showing a 43% surge in web listeners for the iHeartRadio platform, a 20% boost in podcast listening on the iHeartRadio app, an 11% increase in iHeart listening on smart speakers and a 37% increase in smart TV listeners. March was a record month for the iHeart Podcast Network, Podtrac data shows, for both downloads and unique visitors. The network exhibited the greatest gains in states most heavily hit by the virus, such as California (+13%) and New York (+8%).

“With stay-at-home policies in effect throughout the county, consumers are seeking and finding ways to stay connected,” iHeartMedia Senior VP of Digital Sales Zach Claudio said. “They continue to lean into radio, podcast, streaming and video and other digital content as a way of staying connected during this in-home environment.”