Do You Know The Six Rs Of Radio?


(By Bob McCurdy) We all remember the three Rs from our grammar school days. Well, Brad Kelly, the Managing Director of Nielsen Audio wrote a terrific article titled “The Six R’s of Radio — A Best Practices Guide on Radio’s Role for Advertisers.” We wanted to expand on Brad’s six Rs a bit.

REMIND: Brad cited a study Nielsen conducted that concluded that the tune-in rate to a TV program was double for those who heard the program’s commercial within 90 minutes of the program airing. This study reinforces radio’s ability to positively impact listeners close to the “point of purchase” and underscores a major radio benefit: delivering a relevant commercial message within a key window of opportunity when the message is most relevant and when action can be taken.

REGISTER: A Nielsen analysis found that people who were exposed to a radio ad three or more times had a greater likelihood of doing online research and taking action to purchase, when compared to those not exposed to any radio advertising. A previous study conducted by Arbitron several years back for the OAAA provided data that supported these findings. When we applied pricing to the data in the OAAA study, we found that, dollar for dollar, radio considerably outperformed TV and print in driving the “offline” listener to take “online” action.

REINFORCE: Can also be referred to as “forward encoding,” meaning exposure to a commercial in one medium enhances the processing and engagement with subsequent commercial exposures in other media. The first exposure “primes” interest in subsequent exposures. “Synergy” can also come into play here as the same number of commercial exposures in multiple media has a greater summed or “reinforcing” effect than a similar number of exposures in a single medium.

RELATE: A 2012 study led by Katz’s Mary Beth Garber, conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, uncovered the “parasocial” relationship that exists between radio personalities and their listeners, concluding that many listeners view radio hosts “like a friend,” whose opinions they trust and value and whose endorsements encourage them to take action. This study was repeated in 2014 with similar results. As radio personality Jim Kerr once noted, the bond between a popular, trusted radio personality and his or her listeners is “the closest thing you’ll ever get in media to two neighbors talking over the backyard fence.” This quote sums up perfectly radio’s one-to-one intimacy.

REACH: Which is critically important, yet increasingly difficult to attain. “Low cost” for “high reach” remains an attractive proposition for many advertisers. Note the number “97%.” That’s the percent of 18+ adults who tune to AM/FM radio each month, according to Nielsen’s Q1 2016 Total Audience Report. Also note that businesses typically grow by expanding their customer base, not by getting existing customers to buy more frequently. This speaks to the importance of reach, and radio reaches more U.S. consumers each week than any other medium.

RETURN: Also referred to as “payback,” ROI, or ROAS. Nielsen’s return-on-ad-spend studies should be reviewed with every advertiser and agency, as they are uniformly compelling, representing powerful empirical data that trumps previous anecdotal evidence of performance. Hopefully there are more on the horizon.

We’re adding four more Rs and they stem from a study we conducted in conjunction with General Motors a while back. They’re “relaxation,” “reliability,” “relevance,” and “recollection.”

RELAXATION: Part of radio’s appeal is its ability to serve as a relaxing backdrop and companion in today’s hectic, on-the-go life. Some of the most frequent comments from this study’s participants regarding radio centered on it being a “relaxing experience” and a “mood enhancer.” The 2016.1 USA TouchPoints data confirm this has not changed. Emotionally, radio tends to play a very different role to that of online, with radio being more of a soak-in, lean-back experience, versus online being more lean-forward and task-focused — a nice complement between the two media channels.

RELEVANCE: Radio’s wide range of formats and personalities enables it to appeal to just about everyone (97% 18+). The respondents referred to radio as providing “social currency,” “to stay current and educate,” while noting the “just for me” and “when and where I need it” side of the medium.

RELIABILITY: The “always there, always on” aspect of radio was also referenced. The importance of “always there, always on” was painfully obvious several weeks ago on the East Coast with Hurricane Matthew. Radio, in 2016, continues to assist millions of listeners to successfully navigate their daily lives via traffic, weather, and news updates, and like any good friend is there when you need it.

RECOLLECTION: Radio’s “soundtrack of our lives” quality enables it to serve as an unparalleled memory anchor for many listeners, acting as a time machine, transporting us back to an exact place. This recollection ability was clearly important to many study participants.

We’ll add one more R, and it has to do with us and not radio. We must continue to “relentlessly” tell our story and search for ways to meaningfully contribute to our clients’ success, as ours always stems from theirs.

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


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