Why do most advertising campaigns stick with a single-length commercial throughout a schedule regardless of the length of flight, rarely rotating in shorter-length creative as the campaign progresses? We believe there’s a sound psychological and media rationale to consider doing so more frequently.
Advertising has three key “media-related” objectives, if it’s not a limited time offer or promotionally focused:
1. To maximize reach. Reach as many potential customers as possible, the heavy buyer, the light buyer, as well as the current non-buyer who can transition to become a buyer (the marketing law of moderation). Consumer purchasing habits are extremely fluid with the non-buyers/users of today evolving into buyer/users of tomorrow. Purchasing decisions change due to personal circumstances and whims, which is why it’s so important for an advertiser to reach everyone who has the “potential” to purchase a product/service (which is almost everyone). Companies become big because they have more customers, not because their customers buy more frequently. And the way to become “big” is make a lot of people aware of what you’re offering.
2. Maintain “visibility.” The absent are oft forgotten. Figure out a way to remain on-air as many weeks as a budget will allow. This “continuing brand presence” leads to share-of-voice and share-of-mind which plays a big role in share-of-market. Consumer buying never stops, so maintaining marketing “visibility” for as long as possible generally leads to good things.
3. To pay as little as possible. It’s our job to highlight that “paying less” for “more” is only good if it is the right kind of “more,” which it often isn’t.
Consumers typically go through a three-stage cognitive process when exposed to radio commercials (or advertising via any other medium), asking themselves a few questions, usually in a fraction of a second:
— What am I hearing?
— Have I heard it before?
— Do I need to continue listening?
The answer to this last question leads to either continued engagement if relevant, or disengagement if not.
Answers to these questions are also determined by the number of times someone’s heard a commercial. Do we pay as much attention to a commercial the fifth time we’re exposed to it, as the first? Hopefully not. After the first exposure, we skip the first two questions and begin to just focus on, do we need to continue listening?
We’re busy, easily distracted with an ever-decreasing attention span. Once we’ve been exposed to anything, it changes forever how we process it. With radio commercials, we quickly segue to the “already heard it, know what it says, and on to the next event” mode in a matter of seconds.
So if this process takes just a few moments, why continue to advertise exclusively with :60s or :30s when these more costly commercials have evolved to function more like :05s, :10s or :15s?
A commercial’s life cycle is comprised of two phases. The first phase “educates” and often lasts an exposure or two at most. The second phase is the “remind” phase. The vast majority of any ad campaign’s paid gross impressions fall within this “remind” phase, as that’s frequency, which is every exposure beyond the first.
And what’s the definition of “remind”? According to the dictionary it’s “to cause (a person) to remember.” How much time does it usually take one to remember? Often not a lot.
Let’s relate this to a radio ad campaign and how this might benefit our clients.
Each station’s audience is comprised of heavy and light listeners. The heaviest and heavy listeners will be obviously exposed to more commercials than the light and lightest listeners, which means that each station’s audience will be comprised of different segments of listeners who are processing the identical commercial differently.
To the heaviest and heavy listeners, the commercial will serve to “remind,” to the light and lightest listeners who’ve yet to be exposed to it, once exposed, it will serve to “educate.” And with each passing week, fewer and fewer listeners will be left to “educate” as the reach of the campaign increases.
So in light of this, why not consider rotating in shorter and less costly, similar-themed commercial units to serve as a cost-effective and reach-generating “reminder” to those who’ve been previously exposed to the message, while continuing to air :30s or :60s to “educate” those exposed for the first time? The rotation of these longer and shorter length commercials could even be adjusted throughout the campaign based upon the commercial’s life cycle.
This accomplishes two of the key media related objectives referenced above by enhancing the reach of the campaign while extending the advertiser’s continued brand presence. This tactic will not negatively impact total spend but could make that spend more impactful.
Sometimes what’s old is new and what’s effective is simple.