Vanity number wins radio test

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Radio ads featuring a vanity 800 number drew 58 percent more telephone calls in a recent study than radio ads that gave a numeric toll-free number.

The study tested response rates of different types of phone numbers in otherwise identical ads, using a vanity number (800/TRADE-NOW) versus 800/954-2828 as the direct response method. It involved Creative Broadcast Concepts Inc., a Biddeford, ME, full-service ad and marketing agency specializing in retail automobile advertising; Grieger's Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Valparaiso, IN; and vanity 800 service provider 800response.

"The study with CBC and Grieger's quantifies the extent to which a vanity 800 number outperforms even an easy to remember 'repeater' number," said Laura Noonan, vice president of marketing for 800response, Burlington, VT.

Two Chicago-area radio stations ran 154 ads over two weeks, half  featuring the vanity number and the rest featuring the numeric toll-free number. Both stations used an even rotation of the spots. Incoming calls to both numbers were tracked and recorded electronically. The vanity number drew 58 percent more calls.

"Radio is a critical component of advertising plans for most of our clients," said Bill Park, an account executive for CBC Inc. "It is highly targeted and easily tracked.

The study ... proves to us that not only are vanity 800 numbers effective for the radio medium, but that businesses are missing out on potential sales when they advertise with a straight numeric phone number."

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