As businesses of nearly every size and stripe are challenged to fill job openings in a labor market rocked by a global pandemic, radio is benefitting from a surge in recruitment advertising. It’s part of a larger trend that also encompasses business-to-business marketers taking advantage of radio’s over-delivery of employed Americans and its position as the top reach medium.
Recruitment advertising is on a tear, soaring 60.2% to $30.2 million at network radio during the period of Jan. 20 – June 20, from $18.9 million in 2020, according to Miller Kaplan data. That also marks a 3% improvement from $29.4 million in pre-COVID 2019. The category is led by Indeed which nearly tripled its year-over-year outlay to $21.7 million, from $8.6 million, and increased 38% from $15.7 million in 2019. Zip Recruiter upped its network radio allocation by 18.3% to $6.7 million from $5.7 million in 2020 and from $6.1 million in 2019.
What’s driving the trend? A recent MARU/Matchbox study, commissioned by Cumulus Media, shows over-the-air AM/FM radio reaches over 80% of active and passive job seekers.
It’s not just radio networks that are benefitting. “Recruitment companies know radio listeners respond to ads. Radio drives awareness of open positions and is an effective online search driver,” says Christine Travaglini, President of national sales rep firm Katz Radio Group. “Numerous Katz studies show that radio ads raise awareness, consideration, and prompt consumer action, driving lift in web traffic and engagement. These specific KPI’s are important in recruitment advertising.”
In many cases, employers are targeting people who already have a job but are revaluating what’s important to them. “It's a great way to reach a market that you might not normally reach, because those people weren't out actively looking for a job,” says Erica Farber, President of the Radio Advertising Bureau.
It wasn’t always like this. Flash back to the dot-com boom and websites became the preferred way for HR departments to recruit workers. Now, with major hiring challenges across business sectors, radio “has become an important tool” says Farber. “It's become a really big growth category for radio since there isn't an industry that hasn't been touched by recruitment challenges, whether it's retail, trucking, construction – even schools are challenged with bus drivers. We're hearing a lot from our members that businesses are shifting their advertising patterns and are using radio to reach consumers.”
B2B Marketers Up Radio Allocation
The trend includes a growing number of businesses targeting decision makers at other businesses. B2B spending at network radio jumped 12.5% to $31.3 million during the period of Jan. 20 – June 20, from $27.8 million during the same period last year. That’s a 22% gain from $25.7 million in 2019. Among the biggest gainers are Staples (up 121% over 2020 to $5.7 million), Dell Computers (up 44.6% to $5.2 million), Babbel (+ 22.8% to $3.7 million) and Express VPN (+85% to $3.8 million). Conor Doyle, Senior VP of Strategy & Investment at Veritone One, the performance-based agency that places media buys for ExpressVPN, said he expects its radio allocation to be up again next year. “It’s less about a planning piece of research and more about results,” he says. “We are seeing the responses and so that's why our allocations are up.”
More and more media buyers are recognizing radio’s strength in reaching decision-makers. Katz is booking more B2B business in the crowded telecom category. “Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile are all using radio for B2B,” says Travaglini. “A great example is the Comcast Spotlight campaign, an integrated marketing program powered by local radio across many formats, including promotion, prizing, social media integration and DJ’s serving as brand ambassadors.”
Radio over indexes on employed Americans, especially when compared to television, making it a highly desirable target for recruitment and B2B advertisers. “B2B advertisers choose radio because they know it delivers employed people, business decision-makers and business owners – and drives measurable consumer action, driving lift in web traffic and engagement,” says Travaglini.
Although news/talk is often thought of first for B2B advertisers, recent research studies show business decision makers listen to a wide variety of AM/FM formats, including top 40 (33%), rock and classic rock (28% a piece), news/talk (27%) and country 23%. “There are certain formats that tend to really over index for B2B clients,” says Veritone One’s Doyle. “We've seen a lot of news, talk and sports do really well. Certain areas of radio really do well for hitting business decision makers.”
It’s natural that Staples and Dell, who target employed audiences, are leaning into radio because of its massive reach and because its audience over-indexes on full-time employed workers. “If you're selling any kind of business-related products, targeting an audience that over indexes on working is a smart thing,” says Doyle.