5 Reasons to Rethink Radio Right Now

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5 Reasons to Rethink Radio Right Now
5 Reasons to Rethink Radio Right Now

Twenty years after critics said MTV would kill radio and a decade after pundits predicted iPods would bury it radio is enjoying a digital-driven renaissance. Content providers have morphed the medium into a multi-platform bundle of options that ensure radio's ongoing place in our media mix: AM/FM, satellite, streaming, mobile.

For listeners, this means countless new ways to enjoy their favorite music and spoken word entertainment. For advertisers, this broad spectrum of audio has made advertising's most intimate mass medium even more attractive to those who like to target on a granular level.

To help you rediscover or reconsider your relationship with radio, here are five amazing things the medium can do today that will benefit your brand.

1. Radio can deliver 100% efficiency by age, gender, and geography

Many Internet radio platforms now fulfill this 100% efficiency promise. Let's take Pandora, for example. With more than 70 million unique weekly listeners, Pandora competes with AM/FM networks for audience delivery and advertiser dollars. But while AM/FM can target specific demographics, advertising impressions (and ad dollars) are wasted on unwanted recipients.  A beer brand targeting men ages 21 to 34 on rock radio still pays to reach males under 21, men over 34 and all of the women who just happen to be listening to that programming.

On Pandora that same hypothetical buy would only serve that commercial message to men between the ages of 21 and 34. (Pandora listeners sign up by giving their age, gender, and ZIP code.) Buys can be placed to target “Nielsen friendly” demos like “Men 21-34” or custom-created targets like “Men 22-29.”

Things get really interesting when you overlay geography. A five-location Brooklyn restaurant chain can now target only Brooklyn, whereas a traditional media buy would likely include New York's other boroughs, Connecticut, New Jersey, and upstate New York.

Advertisers can also create custom clusters of ZIP codes where their ads would be served.  Imagine what that might mean to a luxury brand that had never before considered radio to be a viable marketing option, but can now can deliver its message to adults ages 45 to 65 living in America's 1,000 wealthiest ZIP codes.

2. Radio can deliver audience by lifestyle preferences

Beyond the broad market trends of Scarborough and PRIZM, radio can now match advertisers with an audience that shares lifestyle-compatible interests.

Take podcasts. Tens of millions of Americans download podcast programs on every imaginable topic. Ads are embedded in content and often voiced by the host. And once someone downloads your commercial in a podcast, your commercial becomes a permanent part of that download, served every time users play and replay the program.

iTunes Radio promises the ability to target based on a listener's history of downloaded podcasts and apps. So, for example, an expensive olive oil brand could reach 10,000 people through a cooking podcast or perhaps reach millions of iTunes Radio listeners who, at some point, downloaded a cooking app from the App Store.

Triton Digital, which delivers AM/FM stations and other audio programming online to 40 million unique weekly listeners, has partnered with Big Data companies with the aim of matching advertiser offerings with consumer browser history. By searching a listener's “cookie pools” at the start of an online radio session, an ad is then served only to those listeners who match specific browsing and behavioral criteria from more than a thousand different categories.

3. Radio can deliver a national campaign for the cost of a local buy

Radio delivers tremendous economies of scale when you leap from local to national. It's like bulk buying 25-cent cans of soda instead of paying a buck apiece from a vending machine.

The challenge, for advertisers on a budget, is the prohibitive cost of air time on the larger networks. Sure, you're buying listeners by the case, but the “case” may be too large, with some network spots costing upwards of $20,000 each.

Small-to-mid-sized AM/FM networks are one alternative, but for many marketers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio is the truly affordable solution.

With more than 25 million paid subscribers, SiriusXM blankets the U.S., as well as the populous lower tier of Canada. Dozens of advertiser-supported channels provide original content, from news and talk to sports and comedy. Others simulcast the audio feeds from America's most popular cable TV networks.

An efficient weekly schedule can be built for $5,000 to $15,000, a budget comparable to a weekly buy in a market like Salt Lake City. SiriusXM also features popular air personalities willing to lend their voices to your brand to help jumpstart sales and brand awareness. SiriusXM Radio is an excellent entry level national radio "network" available to help you expand your advertising into a whole new medium.

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