My husband and I use media very differently. I stream podcasts and audiobooks when I’m at home doing laundry or cleaning the house. I listen to Pandora while I’m driving if I want to relax or to an audiobook when I need to finish the book before I have to digitally return it to the library. My husband is a radio guy. Radio advertising in 2018 works for my husband but it doesn’t work on me. It doesn’t work on me because I don’t listen to the radio.
My husband though is a radio listener. He’s also a creature of habit. He used to drive a lot for his job. So, he grew accustomed to listening to the radio. He didn’t have a smartphone until he was practically given one a few years ago, so he’s a man who prefers traditional media in general. He doesn’t “do” social media and if it weren’t for the maps and traffic app on his phone he’d trade his iPhone for a flip phone in a heartbeat. We’re both technically Millennials. Although we’re “old” millennials.
I like to observe my husband when he’s driving because as a marketer I find people’s media habits interesting in general. He does the same thing every time he gets in his truck. He adjusts his mirrors, turns the truck on and immediately turns the radio station to the news / talk radio station he prefers. Then he does a quick glance at his iPhone WSDOT app to check traffic and he’s off. He cruises down the road without touching the dial the entire drive. He’ll occasionally turn it down if the kids are fighting and he has to use his “dad voice” to calm the seemingly constant bickering, but when the kids stop arguing, he turns it back up and leaves the station untouched the entire remainder of the drive. It kind of drives me crazy. Why doesn’t he switch channels when the ads come on?! I’ll tell you the professional reason in a minute… because there is a real strategy to reaching demographics like him through radio advertising…
But, before I give you the scoop on that, I have to mention that I find it so interesting that he truly engages and absorbs the ads without realizing it. Can I just tell you for a minute how many times he has told me about an advertiser he heard on the radio? We’ll be casually talking about an investment or accounting issue (we’re entrepreneurs, don’t judge!) and he’ll be like, “have you heard of XYZ Financial?” and I eyeroll and give him the “here we go again” look while he tells me about the ad he heard. But then, I stop and think when he tells me these things, advertising on the radio is really influential. Even in 2018. My husband can tell me all about this guy on the radio commercial (Brian, BTW, like he knows him lol, but he doesn’t!) as if he had a personal referral but he does not. He literally just hears the ads consistently on his go-to radio station and his perception is that this local financial guy is really smart. He probably is. But we don’t know that because of a referral, we assume that because my husband hears his ads all the time.
Point being, radio advertising can still work in 2018. But why? How are some radio ads effective and some ineffective? Why does my husband seem to “know” Brian from the radio when other advertisers throw money at a station and literally get zero calls?
Three Ways to Make Radio Advertising Work in 2018:
1) Advertisers that chose talk, news, sports or religious radio stations see better success than advertisers who advertise on music stations. It’s pretty common sense. If you’re listening to music you want to hear music, not ads. So, if you live in a big enough market to have more than one music station you enjoy, you’ll just touch the button the moment you hear the commercials begin. If you’re engaged in a program on a news/sports/talk station then you’re waiting to get back to the program that is not available elsewhere… If you’re listening to a Christian radio station, you may choose that station because of it is family friendly music and talk so similarly, you aren’t as likely to switch to a different station format at a commercial break.
2) Endorsements. Advertisers who hire a radio personality to endorse their product are more successful than advertisers who do not. It’s worth the extra monthly talent fee to get a trusted voice/personality to endorse or mention your business. Listeners automatically tune their attention back in when they hear a familiar voice. You benefit from the voice alone. Add an endorsement to the package (if a personality just voices your spot without endorsement that’s a little different, that’s just voicing, but still has a positive effect) and you’ll have an even better success rate because listeners trust their favorite radio personalities. Often the personalities will pepper in personal anecdotes that entertain the listeners too and that makes the tactic even more successful. Note that you can effectively use this tactic on music stations. Ideally, you’d request the spots air at the open or close of the commercial break. That way listeners either haven’t tuned out or are tuning back in at the sound of the radio personality’s voice.
3) Sponsorships. Sponsoring a specific segment of a radio program can provide a great return for advertisers. These can be done successfully on any kind of radio station, including music stations. For instance, a traffic sponsorship consistently keeps your message top of mind for listeners. Traffic reports are read live by a news anchor and the live traffic sponsorship (typically 10 seconds) is usually also read live by the same talent. So, while listeners are tuned in intensely listening for an update on their commute, they’re fully hearing the 10 second sponsorship message about your business or brand. We’ve seen great success on these types of radio advertising sponsorships as well as radio events sponsorships.
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