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RAB: Why Digital-Only Advertisers Should Add Radio To The Mix.


For whatever reasons advertisers choose to buy only digital media – whether it's not understanding the power of broadcast radio, looking for an audience outside of a radio station's target demographic, the need for a visual element, or the perceived inability to measure the effectiveness of radio ads – there are arguments to address all of these.


“The story of radio’s ability to be an effective advertising vehicle has evolved dramatically, yet it’s just as powerful as ever and often underestimated by advertisers,” Marketron Director, Marketing and Content, Beth Osborne says in RAB's “Radio Matters” blog. “There are mountains of data demonstrating that radio and digital campaigns perform better, with radio yielding outcomes like more website traffic, an increase in search engine activity and improvements in interaction with Google and social media advertising.”


One major argument for adding radio ads to digital? It's already happening, says Osborne, citing Borrell-RAB's digital benchmarking for radio report where 40% of stations report that 80% or more of their digital customers also buy radio. “Having a more diverse roster of customers is always a good idea for many reasons,” she says. “It can improve the bumps of seasonality of some advertisers and help a marketing professional to sell a mix of tactics to grow business.”


If objections center on the strength of radio, look no further than Nielsen Media Impact's analysis showing that reach increases when advertisers add AM/FM radio to digital-only campaigns, with reach doubling when the budget increases by 20% to include radio. Nielsen's data also shows that AM/FM radio is now the top mass media for reach in the U.S., ahead of linear TV.


Additionally, a Dentsu study addressed the audio-vs.-video argument, finding that audio ads show higher attentiveness scores and generate better recall from consumers vs. video, while RAB's own 2023 study showed that heavy radio listeners have 4.7 billion weekly brand conversations, where more than half (51%) convert to purchase intent.


“Radio excels because it helps brands generate and convert demand,” Osborne says. “Only a small part of any audience is in the market for a product or service at that moment, whether they hear a radio spot or view a digital ad. Radio has a way of planting a seed because it outperforms other media in terms of attention and recall.”


When it comes to any perceived incompatibility between an advertiser's brand and a radio station's demos, there are also misconceptions at work. “It would be hard to define any programming as entirely absent of listeners across demographics,” Osborne notes. “It’s a misperception that women don’t listen to sports talk, or younger generations don’t listen to classic rock. Nothing could be further from the truth.”


Beyond Dentsu's findings, how to combat the “video is better” argument? “Some brands may reason that their product must be seen because they believe that people need to see it to want it,” Osborne says, “[yet] considering our busy lives and digital interactions, many people may be more attentive to what they hear than see. People also generally have a more favorable impression of ads they hear on the radio. There’s a stronger trust factor with radio, built upon the familiarity of personalities and the fact that stations are part of the community. Audio ads illicit the imagination, so someone hearing a promotion for these products will create personalized visuals. The act of doing this may even keep it around longer.”


Advertisers leaning heavily on digital who expect multiple metrics to measure ad performance should know that radio can generate these as well. “It can be part of the creative with a unique URL, email address or phone number,” Osborne says. “Companies can also view website traffic, clicks and organic traffic by date, and can conclude activity by when their spot ads run.”


Pointing out the many ways radio is heard today across all demos – via streams and smart speakers, and across social media platforms and podcasts – suggest ways to test audio spots in a digital environment. “Radio and digital offer the best results and reach, [and] are a great combination to connect with current and potential consumers wherever they are,” Osborne says. “They add to what’s most important – delivering on what your customer needs.”

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