Replacing TV With Radio: Here’s What Happened For A Major Financial Advertiser.


As radio makes the case to big brand marketers to include radio in their media plans, the pitch frequently revolves around how shifting a portion of the TV budget to AM/FM would boost reach without increasing the cost. But what if an advertiser replaced an entire TV buy with radio? A new study based on Nielsen Media Impact data shows substituting AM/FM radio for TV nearly doubled the reach at a quarter of the TV budget.


NMI is the media planning tool that lets big advertisers and agencies evaluate AM/FM radio using the same metrics as other media. Among other use cases, it allows broadcasters to show advertisers the actual audience delivery of their previously aired TV campaigns and how adding radio to the media mix would have improved their reach.


The new study compared two campaigns placed by a major financial brand that’s typically a big user of television that decided to replace its usual TV buy with broadcast radio. In December 2019 it spent $17.9 million on a TV-only media plan, according to NMI. One year later, the un-named advertiser ditched TV and placed a $4.8 million AM/FM radio buy.


Contrasting the two campaigns, Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard described the difference in the reach of the two media buys as “stunning.” The December 2019 TV campaign generated a 45% reach while the December 2020 AM/FM radio campaign achieved an 83% reach. “AM/FM radio generated nearly double the reach for a quarter of the budget,” Bouvard said in a post on Westwood One's "Everyone’s Listening” blog.


Along with reaching twice as many consumers, the radio plan generated “strong and consistent reach across every age cell,” Bouvard notes.That’s a fundamentally different outcome than for the TV plan, where reach grew with older age groups. Compared to TV, AM/FM radio generated 42% greater reach among persons 45-54, 82% higher reach among persons 35-44, and a 163% increase in reach among persons 25-34.


The NMI analysis looked at the share of impressions by demographic of the two campaigns. The AM/FM radio plan generated 27% of its impressions from persons 18-34, 39% from persons 35-54, and 34% from persons 55+. In sharp contrast, most of the TV impressions (59%) came from persons 55+.


The WWO analysis went beyond comparing and contrasting reach to show the impact the radio campaign had on brand awareness. During Q4 2020, the Harris Poll’s continuous brand tracking platform found familiarity with the financial brand grew among heavy AM/FM radio listeners who were, after all, those with the greatest likelihood to hear the AM/FM radio spots. Familiarity grew from 76% in October to 88% in November before dipping slightly to 85% in December. During the same time frame, brand perceptions for the financial firm among heavy AM/FM radio listeners increased steadily.


“The AM/FM radio campaign worked as brand awareness and brand perceptions grew among heavy AM/FM radio listeners,” Bouvard concludes.

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