40% of NPR Listeners Support Embedded Underwriting

Marketers who want to connect with a hard-​to-​reach audience – affluent and highly educated – should consider embedded underwriting on National Public Radio (NPR). The nonprofit radio network has always promised its audience something different, both in terms of storytelling and promotions.  Some local stations worry that embedding underwriting, the practice of sponsoring smaller stories in a news segment, will irritate listeners, but research finds that is not the case.

A recent report on current​.org outlines NPR’s shift to embedded underwriting in 2011. The network is under continued financial pressure as government funding dries up.  These days, NPR is increasingly reliant on member donations and corporate underwriting.  Corporate sponsorships of part or all of various news magazines brought in $6 million in September 2013 which accounted for a big boost to the bottom line of the organization.

Lightspeed Research polled listeners about embedded underwriting. Currently these types of spots are limited to 11 per week and marketers are screened to prevent conflict of interest when gauged against the types of stories being reported. Consumers who listen to NPR’s news magazines at least once a week reported the following reactions:

  • Positive 40%
  • Neutral 47%
  • Negative 13%

Nearly 18% of the NPR audience has household income that exceeds $100,000. About 50% of these consumers reside in the suburbs and another 29% are urbanites.  NPR listeners have a higher than average rate of voting in elections at any level and in donating money to political candidates, parties or campaigns. AudienceSCAN data shows a locally-​owned business is the preferred destination for 74% of these audience members when price and product are the same. Many of these folks, 58.9%, will change stores to support retailers that are aligned with specific charities and causes.

In addition, these audience members will buy window treatments and office equipment and supplies at a much higher than average rate. NPR listeners also over-​index in turning to online search to learn more about a product or service after hearing an ad on the radio.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.