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

4. One buy, multiple messages

For years, advertisers have placed multi-station local radio buys, varying the message on each station for maximum impact. Adults 25 to 54 were sliced and diced to deliver different messages to men and women, young and old. After all, a 26-year-old man's buying triggers are much different than those of a 51-year-old woman.

Now, on the national level, new technology presents new opportunity to replicate these targeting tactics:

  • National AM/FM networks and syndicated programs now offer copy-splitting, whereby different messages are served via satellite to different markets.
  • Digital services like Pandora and Slacker enable copy-splitting by age, gender, and geography. One message can speak to 30-somethings while another speaks to 40-somethings. Men can hear one message, while women hear another. Retailers can specifically promote the one location nearest to each individual listener, rather than having to recite a laundry list of 10.
  • On a local AM/FM buy, smart advertisers produce multiple versions of their ads, using different announcers to keep the country voice off of the hip-hop station and vice versa. The same words carry more credibility when the right voice delivers the message.
  • Using behavioral targeting your radio ad can now be served only to listeners who have demonstrated a specific action of interest or intent. So instead of convincing someone to buy a hybrid car, you can target listeners who've searched for hybrid cars online and then tell them why to buy yours.

Radio has always been an intimate, one-on-one medium. But now you can peer through the looking glass to see who that “one” special customer is and tailor your message to make that person nod “Yes!”

5. Radio can be held accountable for results

Pricing for radio time can fluctuate like the cost of airline tickets—10 different targets might sell at 10 different rates, with each buyer confident of having got the best deal. It's a supply-and-demand marketplace tempered by individual buying power and negotiation.

And just like seats on an airplane, radio ad time is a perishable commodity. If the plane leaves the gate with empty seats, there's no way to turn back to generate that lost revenue.

Let's say you've negotiated a $350 spot rate down to $265. Nice job. But here's the important question: Did your campaign work?

If you needed to generate a $50 lead cost but ended up with a $70 lead, you might decide that radio failed. But if you could negotiate an additional 30% rate reduction—and buy that $265 spot for $185.50—you'd beat your $50 lead target and probably end up throwing more money at the medium.

Crazy? Sure it is. Until you realize that the radio stations with unsold inventory would much rather take 70 cents on the dollar than zero cents on the dollar.

Your objective is the same as the radio station's objective—to keep the client on the air as a cash customer. And you're more than happy to do that if you're generating the return on investment that justifies the investment. You won't if it doesn't.

This responsible approach to radio advertising gives the radio station, network, or delivery platform a chance to keep your business, extending the opportunity for radio reps to live up to their promise of being your marketing partner.

The wrap

A decade ago, it was uncertain whether or not radio would survive the proliferation of new media. The death of radio was predicted so often I kept a black suit and tie in my office just in case they ever actually announced the time and date of the funeral. Today, it's clear that radio—in all of its forms—has weathered the onslaught of would-be assassins to cement its place in our lives and lifestyles.

And as these five examples illustrate, radio has learned how to project its voice in the new media marketplace, rather than go softly into the quiet night.

Mark Lipsky is president & CEO of The Radio Agency. You can reach him at Mark@TheRadioAgency.com.

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