Wake Up (Again) To Radio
It’s the dream: affordable, accountable, efficient and effective media. Wake up (again) to radio. Even if you’ve been there, done that, it’s time to tune in once again. Nevermind the blast-from-the-past associations. It has been a long time since radio was the new kid on the block, but radio is the kid that hangs tough and still rolls with the cool kids despite its old-school status. Interestingly, radio has managed to stay relevant in today’s fast-moving world. In 2019, radio keeps doing what radio does well by offering advertisers an affordable, efficient advertising platform in traditional media. In addition, today it can leverage social media and app-driven technology through creative programming that is reaching new listeners nonstop. Radio isn’t reinventing itself, it’s expanding in response to the demands of the growing audio consumer base. What kind of numbers are we talking about? Thanks to the addition of content like podcasts and streaming audio, radio adds millions of new listeners every year. They come from everywhere in the country and represent a broad cross-section of demographics and age groups. Not only is radio is still gaining reach, but the big advertisers know it!
All The Cool Brands Are Doing It
We’ve all heard of GEICO, Walmart, Verizon, McDonalds and AT&T, but did you all know that part of their brand recognition comes from their presence and strategy on radio? According to consumer research group YouGov BrandIndex, these, and other brands with the highest ad awareness, believe in the power of radio to deliver their advertising messages. In 2017, GEICO was the number 2 radio advertiser for the first half of the year, until, according to Media Monitors, Home Depot bulldozed over them to take the top slot. With radio ad spend projections of 16 billion by 2021, both big national brands and countless local advertisers are signaling a collective faith in radio to deliver success.
Advertisers like GEICO recognize radio as a unique medium where the audience participates in the creative exercise. With no visual components in the ads, listeners naturally fill in the gaps with their own images. The imaginations of listeners cooperate in shaping brand identity and personality. This makes radio a “clean” medium that in many ways cuts down on intrusive visual clutter consumers filter through online. Radio still plays as a single message source where the receiver can focus on one message at a time. The sheer number of competing screens in the world could mean that being heard by radio is easier than being seen somewhere in the blur of onscreen imagery part of visual advertising mediums. Plus, radio has always had “personality” because of its roots in local communities. This connectedness of radio is an important component behind it’s staying power. Radio personalities have long been the “trusted” voices of reason, information, encouragement and outrage. There is a unique way that radio reaches its target through music because there is huge emotional involvement when hearing a familiar song or a new favorite tune. The mindset of the radio listener is active, not passive, so there is an inherent advantage in advertising that evokes thought, triggers a laugh, or even brings on the tears. The radio audience is literally all ears, and the key to reaching them is strategic planning and creative that makes the most out of the medium.
Frequency & Recency
Radio metrics are predicated on multiple factors including the familiar subjects of frequency and reach. In theory, how many times a listener has to hear a message before they “hear” it tend to emphasize the importance of frequency, but it’s radio’s reach and close counterpart “recency” that can be used for more powerful planning and measurement. Recency is all about messages that remind a consumer to move forward with something that is already under consideration. The existing receptivity means the listener may not need to hear the message as often as three times to take action. They may only need to hear it once. So, with frequency you can knock on one door three times in an attempt to open it, or with recency one knock can resonate strongly enough to get the door open right away, leaving you two more knocks to try on two more doors. This is how recency plays a key role in radio reach.
Recent audio marketing analytics emerged from research giant Neilsen (post-Arbitron acquisition) which was designed to measure and compare media platforms across the board. They found that more than social, mobile or TV, radio has reached more consumers than any other medium. Further, Neilsen matched credit and debit card purchases to radio ad measurements concluding that radio exposure equaled dramatic ROAS (returns on ad spends). Finally, they looked at specific brands to once again see if radio ruled the day and the results held true with these brands averaging more than six dollars in sales for every one dollar invested in radio ads. Since radio is already a more budget-friendly advertising option than print and TV, there is every reason in the world to keep it in the mix.
The Future is Radio
The future of audio-based advertising remains interesting. In the age of on-demand content, it’s easy enough to foresee a time when voice-enabled speakers and other smart audio devices will provide new opportunities for radio stations and advertisers. According to The Smart Audio Report put together by NPR and Edison Research, 70% of smart speaker buyers are listening to more audio since their purchase. Listening time is trending up – and not just at home. Drive-time listening is also seeing the wave of engagement in on-demand listening. As adoption of new content and technologies increases, so will the opportunities for the first electronic mass media ever made to be the last one standing.
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