Response Data is Rewriting the Way Radio is Sold and Bought

Contributor: Rick Kestenbaum, General Manager, AnalyticOwl

As the old saying goes, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This is especially true in radio selling and buying, where a reliance on expensive ratings data and audience demos leads to buys made on the description of an audience rather than the actions of an audience. Contrast this with digital selling, where plans are made based on historical response and ROI. It’s clear which gets an advertiser off to a better start and which leads to greater satisfaction. Now, thanks to the rise of response data, radio can be sold and bought on the same game-changing premise.

According to the current approach, the focus is identifying “the right audience,” based on audience characteristics such as size, age, income, education, etc. The problem there is that the focus is not on what the advertiser cares about most – response and resulting revenue.

When a buy is made on this premise, there’s no opportunity for a meaningful discussion on results, leaving only “gut feelings” as a barometer, doing no one any good. Time goes by, and without any tangible measure, sellers are left without much to say and advertisers are prone to disillusionment. Often, this leads to cancellations and non-renewal of advertising that is quite commonly working just fine.

According to the new approach, sellers take two minutes and produce a custom, timely report highlighting actual response to recent campaigns in their local market and in their advertiser’s industry and advertisers use those insights to make a strong, measurable plan.

For example, here is data drawn from the auto dealers category in the Buffalo, NY market for September 2020. All are relevant, not only in giving advertisers confidence that radio works in driving increased website and foot traffic, but also in helping pre-optimize a campaign for a stronger start:

  • The top daypart for response was midday
  • The top day was Tuesday, creating an opportunity to convince prospects and existing advertisers to add Tuesdays if they aren’t already doing so
  • The top ad duration was :30
  • The expected ROI for a dealer who sells one car every hundred website visits, with a profit of $2,400, was $3 for every $1 spent
  • Auto dealers saw more website traffic days on air than days off air
  • Each aired spot resulted in an average of seven VPA (Visits Per Airing™)
  • The Response Opportunity was 37%, indicating that there were other dealers on the air and that a strategic presence is required to be competitive
  • Website visitors viewed an average of three pages, spent an average of over four minutes and bounced (left after viewing only one page) at a low 8% rate, demonstrating that broadcast audiences are engaged buyers
  • 94% of visitors responding to a spot used a search engine, and very few visited directly by typing in a dealer’s website address (despite the call to action!)
  • The top hours for foot traffic were 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and the top day was Tuesday, again suggesting a good opportunity

These figures will vary, of course, based on market, time period and other filtering factors, but clearly this is a game-changing shift that provides strong actionable insights.

From there, the new approach has seller, agency and advertiser in regular contact, reviewing the impact on website and foot traffic, analyzing which creative, days and dayparts are working best and optimizing to even better response.

What does this mean for radio sellers and buyers? More buys made with realistic, trackable expectations set, less need for advertisers to consider cancellation and more opportunity for advertisers to comfortably invest more in radio. AnalyticOwl found that those who were presented with response data cancelled 50% less often and confidently spent an average of 20% more.

That’s a win for all parties involved.


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