Marketers are paying a reported $6.5 million for a 30-second spot airing in this Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals on NBC. About 96.4 million viewers tuned in during an average minute last year to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. So, what could a marketer get if they invested some – or all – of that $6.5 million in radio?
For $2.5 million, or about 40% of the cost of a Super Bowl TV ad, a brand could buy a monthlong network radio campaign and reach 65% of the country’s 258.3 million 18+ population or 168 million adults. The advertiser would save $4 million by skipping the Super Bowl and reach 74% more people. For $5 million, they could buy two months of network radio and reach double the number that would see the Super Bowl ad, according to Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard. “If you just took that one spot and said, ‘What could I buy and get mass reach in network radio?’ you could get quite a campaign.”
And that’s just one of several options. If the $6.5 million were invested in spot radio, the campaign could span multiple touchpoints, including valuable DJ endorsements and tactics like roadblocks and takeovers. “This budget would fund a multi-week, multi-market national spot campaign that could be geo-targeted, demo-targeted and utilize the original social influencers – local DJs that have tremendous on-air and social followings,” says Christine Travaglini, President of rep firm Katz Radio Group. “Advertisers could also go beyond brand spots to include exciting custom and disruptive on-air tactics that could include roadblocks, takeovers, and countdowns to name a few.”
Comparable Ad Effectiveness
While radio is priced at a fraction of the cost of a TV campaign, research shows it is within striking distance of TV in ad effectiveness. A 2021 study of three brands conducted by advertising measurement firm Advertising Benchmark Index found radio ad effectiveness to be comparable to TV. The radio creative scored an ABX Index more than 90% as high as TV ads and tested very close in many of the creative KPIs, such as message delivery and consumer action.
But in today’s omnichannel world, advertising isn’t an either/or proposition. A spectacular Super Bowl ad can create massive buzz and even launch a new brand or product. Radio can play off that in the days following the Big Game with a campaign that complements the TV spot.
“The Super Bowl isn't over on Sunday night. Radio continues the conversation the next morning with consumers beyond where TV can reach them, out of home and in the car, where radio dominates those messaging opportunities,” Travaglini says.
According to recent Scarborough data, seven in 10 employed adults currently commute to a job outside the home. “That means come Monday, radios will be on with people looking to continue discussions on the game, halftime show, and the ads on their way to work and while at work,” Travaglini continues. She points to a study by Our Media, part of the MARU/Matchbox research firm, that showed 70% of radio listeners remember hearing radio conversations, or took part in on-air discussions, about the Super Bowl on the Monday after the game. “When a brand extends over-the-air chatter and keeps the advertiser's creative message top of mind with consumers the next day and weeks to come, the advertiser and their ROI wins,” Travaglini adds.
Nielsen Commspoint Research shows that reallocating 20% of a TV and digital buy to radio delivers substantial incremental reach. Even for a modest $500,000 campaign, shifting 20% of the budget to radio while leaving 80% for TV and digital provides a 122% audience lift. For a $2 million weekly TV + digital campaign, allocating 20% to AM/FM radio increases campaign reach by 67%.
One of the challenges with Super Bowl ads is viewers remember the spot but often forget the brand that shelled out $6.5 million for it. “Sometimes people swing for the fences, and nobody connects the charming and entertaining ad to the brand,” Bouvard notes. “Radio can help make sure you get credit and associate that. You’re getting new people that you couldn't have reached. And you're also taking the people that were exposed and reminding them.”