How To Convince Advertisers to Come Back to Radio


(by Bob McCurdy) This past week we met with the president of a major auto dealer association. They had been using Radio and moved those radio dollars to cable and broadcast TV. They stressed that they had to be “re-sold” on the value of Radio. In this column, I’ve included the follow up e-mail to that meeting, which provides the advertiser with a plethora of vital radio data.

The association’s target demo is A35-64. We wanted to make sure we effectively responded to their challenge of telling them something they didn’t already know.

You mentioned the importance of focusing on Radio’s strength. Will do so now:

According to Nielsen’s latest Scarborough, the median HHI for the P1 (heaviest) A35-64 TV viewer is $26,144. These viewers number 102,292 or 19.3% of the A35-64 demo, view TV 10.5 hrs/day and account for 40% of all A35-64 TV viewing in the market.

The lightest A35-64 TV viewers number 100,241 or 19.1% of the A35-64 demo, view TV 34 minutes/day and account for only 2% of all A35-64 TV viewing in the market. The median HHI of these lightest TV viewer’s is $50,980 or +95% higher than the heaviest TV viewers.

These lightest, more upscale TV viewers spend 3x as much time each day listening to the Radio, tuning in 1.7 hrs/day.

The bottom line is that the heaviest TV viewers who have half the spending power of the lightest TV viewers will be exposed to 20x as many of your association’s TV commercials as the lightest TV viewers. BTW, the median HHI of the P1 (heaviest) A35-64 Radio listener in the market is $53,516, more than doubling the HHI of the heaviest TV listener. The lightest TV viewers are heavy Radio listeners. Radio delivers the consumer with $$.

In Q2 2016, eighteen automotive dealer groups ran 43,702 commercials on either broadcast or cable TV. Your association’s share of these commercials was 7.1%. Compare this figure to Toyota’s 17.1% share, Honda’s 16.2, Nissan’s 13.7, Chevy’s 12.5 and Hyundai’s 9.7%.

If share-of-voice does lead to share-of-mind, which ultimately leads to “consideration” and if much advertising serves to neutralize the impact of competitive advertising (prevent conquesting), it might make sense to reconsider Radio as your competitors have 2x+ your share-of-voice.

In Q2 2016 these eighteen dealer groups ran 3,650 Radio commercials. It would not take much to dominate this medium which reaches 98%+ of all A35-64’s according to the latest Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report and whose heaviest listeners have twice the HHI of the heaviest TV viewer.

Some other points to consider:

The Advertising Research Foundation recently released an extensive study funded by 40 of the largest national advertisers (Nissan was among them) and media companies to better understand how advertising works in 2016. They found that the addition of Radio to a TV only campaign increased ROI +20%. These findings are in line with the results of the recent Nielsen Ken Garf study which highlighted the positive impact of those exposed to a TV and Radio ad, versus those exposed to TV or Radio or those not exposed to either. Interestingly, when the impact of each medium was broken down, Radio’s thirty second ad impact closely paralleled that of thirty second TV commercials:

The points made in the ad were relevant to me: Radio scored 89% of TV

The points made in the ad were believable: Radio scored +8% higher than TV

It contained new information about Ken Garf Auto: Radio scored 96% of TV

It made me think that Ken Garf Auto is really different from other dealerships: Radio scored 94% of TV.

Note that this study was funded by both Radio and TV stations in Salt Lake City.

Starcom MediaVest, one of the industry’s most respected media/planning agencies, recently worked with RealityMine to determine the correlation between consumers considering, deciding and purchasing various products and exposure to various ad vehicles. The flowing quote summarizes their overall findings:

“In an increasingly digital world, audio and out-of-home advertising still dominate in terms of influencing consumer purchase habits across different stages, categories and targets.” —Helen Katz, Senior VP/Research Director at Publicis Media

And when it came to “considering, deciding or purchasing” in the automotive sector. Here’s what Starcom MediaVest concluded:

“As we might expect in the auto category where the purchase decision process is more extended, the correlations with media exposure for the half-hour prior are all slightly lower than the average. Yet audio and out-of-home enjoy the strongest correlations for purchase consideration and decisions. Media exposure prior to the actual automotive purchase favors out-of-home, with audio and search close behind. Looking at the relationship to purchase activity in this category by audio type, AM/FM is strongest overall, and in particular during the critical consideration stage.”

Pretty powerful unbiased stuff and good news for AM/FM Radio and those who utilize it.

Radio can enhance the impact of your association’s marketing several ways:

Complementary Medium: Not only delivering media value on its own but also reaches the TV light/lightest viewer.

Magnification: Communicate “other complementary reasons” to buy. Contributes to what is referred to as “convergent validity”- heard the messaging elsewhere so must be true. Also serves to “prime” the consumer, making them more attentive to subsequent TV advertising.

Synergy: Multiple media clearly have a greater “summed” effect than any individual media. Confirmed by the Advertising Research Foundation study.

Each week there are 4,000-5,000 autos being purchased in your market. Reaching these folks at the zero moment of truth before they sign on the dotted line is key. Miss them and they are gone for years. Radio can reach the light TV viewers while delivering the consumer who has the economic wherewithal to move the dealer’s business forward.

Each medium brings something different to the media party and are used for different reasons. Radio’s “sweet spot” is its ability to impact advocacy, trial, awareness, consideration and brand affinity as well as reaching people on the go, as they transition between life roles in a contextually attractive environment- their cars.

This was the first shot across the bow. The sales process has only begun.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Spelling the client’s name correctly is key to getting a response… Ken “Garff” Automotive. Attention to detail.

  2. Note to salesguy:
    I just got here.
    Why the snotty (and wholly inaccurate) retort?
    Are you making stuff up – again?

  3. Bob has gone to some lengths and, in other articles, approached the matter from a few different angles.
    The research is available that demonstrates how radio does indeed continue to enjoy significant reach./penetration.
    Unfortunately, those sale departments that have limited access to listenable and influential copy/production are still left holding a more-or-less empty sack when they hit the streets.
    As such, they have few alternatives other than to keep “hard chargin'” with the pedal down.
    “Casual Observer” may not be all that casual. There is a reality and some wisdom in his/her comments.

  4. How Bob’s company fell out of favor with the dealer group is known only to Bob, but….

    clients get bored.
    You get bored, I get bored and clients get bored. Bored people are receptive to something new.
    Solution? Pitch upsells on every call to current advertisers. Not just just more ads running like the current ones, but a new schedule (additional) new copy, new spot length, new anything. This approach is not for marginal salespeople, but is a secret of top-billers.

  5. Bob,

    This analysis should appeal to radio people who have a limited belief in their medium. It’s really just an updated version of what the RAB used to peddle 30 years ago under the heading of “media mix.” It didn’t impress anyone then and it won’t now.
    Going in to a prospective client and saying “me too” isn’t much of a pitch. Do you think that the TV stations or daily newspapers center their story on a media mix or adding a little TV or print will increase results 20%?
    I hope no serious radio salesperson even considers this type of approach. Instead, go in and do a “my radio station only” pitch. The client will be impressed by your company.

    • When an entire medium, in this case radio, has been taken off the buy, that platform needs to walk before it runs; re-earning the trust and re-establishing radio’s value proposition. I’m all for “speaking truth to power”, but the reality is, it’s difficult to sell someone anything, after telling them how stupid their current choices are.

      I only have the details as outlined in this column, but by helping the client understand that the TV viewer they really want to reach is actually a light user of that category and a heavy user of radio, provides the customer a context for reconsidering their ad budget allocations and how radio can drive ROI for their business.

      • Well, Andrew..

        I tend to think that many, if not most, will agree with you;it’s “rational”.
        “Little” radio should not appear greedy nor boastful-just ask for a few crumbs and more will come later if we never raise rates and we praise all the other media the client is buying.
        Since you grossly misstated me as saying I suggest “telling them (the client) how stupid their current choices are”, it’s obvious that you are a poor listener and your company is not worth considering for anything.
        Guys like you–“consultants”–are thick as fleas on this site. It’s the people like me-employed in the radio business-that I listen to and care about.

        • sales guy: It is “…people like me – employed in the radio business…” who are responsible for losing those ad buys over the past twenty years. Why would you only care about their opinion? Seems like listening to folks outside the business might do you know-it-alls in the business some good. But everyone knows that’s not going to happen.


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