The Numbers Don’t Lie


(By Bob McCurdy) This past week, we met with one of the largest tier-3 auto agencies in the country. Two terrific individuals who really “got it.” In preparation for the meeting, we dug into Nielsen’s Commspoint channel planning data to highlight radio’s role and importance to local auto dealerships in South Florida.

Commspoint is a global channel planning tool that evaluates 71 different media’s ability to deliver on a client’s marketing objectives. A key part of its foundation is built on a survey of over 27,000 U.S. consumers, as well as the input of media experts.

The program provides the user with the flexibility to not only choose which of the 71 media are to be evaluated (if a medium is not checked off, it can’t be evaluated. This happens to radio far more than it should) but to also choose and designate the importance of nine messaging tasks (i.e. price, taste, high quality), 12 strategy tasks (i.e. awareness, consideration, trial, re-purchase), as well as 21 different marketing tactics (i.e. build channel-reach quickly, control by day of week, visualize product).

Commspoint is the skeleton upon which many major agency “proprietary” channel planning systems are built, and provides an unbiased view as to which media best perform against key marketing objectives.

The following summarizes what we presented:

First, we filled out a campaign brief. This is a good exercise as its gets us thinking strategically and tactically and less about GRPs and CPPs.

The trading area we chose to evaluate was South Florida, including the Tampa, Ft. Myers, Orlando, Miami, and West Palm Beach DMAs. The target demo was A25-54 who had purchased an automobile over a year ago. Our goal was to illustrate radio’s impact against the auto owner.

Some of the questions the program required us to answer are below. There’s a “slider,” scaled 1-10, for us to designate our answers. To provide some context for the results below we have included our answers to the questions in parentheses:

Campaign duration? (4 weeks)

How frequently do we want the message delivered? (10/continuous)

Is the creative concept new or old? (6/about the same)

Is the campaign message simple or complex? (1/simple)

How important is it to dominate effective channels? (8/important)

How influential is the in-store experience? (8/important)

What is the purchase cycle? (10/annual+)

What is the level of consumer involvement in the product category (9/high)

What is the current awareness level of the product? (7/good)

What is the brand status? Niche/leader? (7/not a niche/not a leader)

How strong is the competitor advertising? (7/pretty strong)

Commspoint aside, just discussing these questions with a client or agency would provide greater insight into their marketing objectives, enabling us to better craft more effective creative and schedules.

Three marketing “tasks” were chosen:

– To generate channel reach quickly

– To control messaging by day of week (Wed-Sun rotation)

– Visualize the product (want the customer to see the car)

The messaging “tasks” chosen, which are the “drivers” that can be important to consumers for when making a purchase decision were:

– Price

– High quality

– Customer service

– Brand affinity

The strategic objectives of the campaign were to:

– Generate awareness

– Consideration

– Communicate where to buy

– Encourage re-purchase.

The input above set the planning table. So how did Commspoint rank the various media?


In terms of overall rank, radio was ranked #11 (many media in the same range) in meeting the designated marketing objectives. Not bad, and if we listed all 71 media being evaluated you’d see that radio easily out-performed some of the shinier stuff such as Facebook ads on desktop and mobile, YouTube ads on desktop and mobile, as well as Twitter ads on desktop and mobile.

But still, a planner or client might look at this chart and conclude that radio ranks #11 and they don’t need it. As we’ll see that would be a mistake.

Note in the chart above, that “Radio promotions” is designated as a media channel in Commspoint and actually ranked #13 out of 71 media options, which means it out-performed 58 other media channels! And how often do we willingly throw in these promotions as “value added” when requested? It might be time to re-think this practice as there’s tremendous media value in these promotions.

We can also factor in each medium’s ability to generate “reach” and re-rank with this variable in the equation. Too often, planners don’t take this extra step, to radio’s detriment. When done, radio jumps from a #11 rank to #2, ahead of every other digital media option. Again, note “Radio promotions” rank.


We can now factor in media “pricing” along with “reach,” and radio ranks with TV, tied for #1 out of 71 different media options. For this chart we used Commspoint’s media pricing. It’s always preferable to get current local pricing from the agency or client. But regardless, the chart below is a good indicator regarding each medium’s “overall” ability to deliver on the above marketing objectives. Radio promotions were not included due to there being no Commspoint pricing in the program for them:


Radio and TV parity: Note that Facebook and YouTube jump considerably when “price” and “reach” are factored in, but also note, they do not out-perform radio.

This tool’s data is not meant to be viewed as an absolute ranking of these 71 media channels, as there are other factors that can be considered when finalizing any media plan, but with that said, radio deserves to be right in the thick of the conversation of any local auto dealer’s media discussion.

We look forward to getting in front of as many key decision-makers as we can line up to discuss this program and highlight the importance of the radio medium for dozens of categories.

Interestingly, Commspoint appears to corroborate the findings from the Advertising Research Foundation’s 2016 study, How Advertising Works Today, which concluded that for maximum ROI the majority of any media budget needs to be allocated to traditional media.

We have all of the tools at our disposal to communicate this message. It’s now up to us.


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