It’s All About Trust


(By Bob McCurdy) Trust. Success in marketing and advertising depends on it, so it would follow that the more trustworthy the media channel, the more impactful the commercial message. Trust is the foundation upon which much consumer action depends. It facilitates belief, and in advertising belief is usually required for the consumer to act on the commercial messaging. Not trusting the messenger will usually result in the message itself being “contested” or simply ignored.

In October 2016, MarketingSherpa, a research institute based in Jacksonville that “specializes in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing,” conducted a study to identify the ads in various media channels Internet users “trusted” when making a purchase decision. The results reconfirmed that traditional media channels remained the most credible of ad vehicles, with radio ranking near the top.


Digital media’s strengths and considerable benefits are well known by all, but what has been somewhat lost in the digital glare the past decade has been the continued benefits of traditional media and, importantly, the lenses through which the advertising on these channels are perceived.

The chart below highlights this special, trusting relationship radio enjoys with the U.S. consumer. This level of trust the consumer subscribes to radio is likely a major contributing reason for its performance in Nielsen’s 23 return-on-ad-spend studies, which have shown the medium to generate an average of $10 in sales for every $1 invested.


These MarketingSherpa findings mirrored the results of previous “trust”-focused media studies.

A Nielsen Q3 2013 study reflected similar results:


An even earlier 2009 Nielsen study concluding the same thing:


And in 2008, research conducted by Yankelovich uncovered the same “trust” phenomenon in their report titled “When Advertising Works.” This study rated 16 different media channels, concluding that traditional media ads, on average, were 81% more likely to make a positive impression than digital ads.

Four studies with four different methodologies over the past eight years, spanning the digitization of America, all came to similar conclusions: that traditional media and radio remain the most credible and trustworthy advertising channels available to marketers.

In addition to having earned the trust of the consumer, radio brings other key tangible benefits necessary for marketing success in 2017:

— Enhances share-of-voice in heavily advertised categories (Mental availability).

— Provides synergistic effects with other media vehicles (“Multiplier Effect”). Radio in combination with another media channel have a greater “summed effect” than one channel alone.

— Priming — also known as convergent validity. Enhancing the receptivity to commercial messaging in other media channels once exposed in radio.

-Provides a perfect 2017 communications continuum, with television being the furthest from the point of purchase and mobile often the closest. Radio bridges the two.

— Provides context of use and the resultant beneficial moments of receptivity as consumers “transition” from one life role to another.

— Reaches light consumers of other media.

-Targets in time: message delivery control.

-One-to-one intimacy approximates print.

— And of course, radio enhances reach in an increasingly fragmented media landscape. Low cost for high reach is more important and difficult to attain than ever.

In an email exchange a number of years back, Lee Clow, famed chairman and chief creative officer at TBWA/Worldwide, described radio as being, “Intimate like Twitter, conversational like Facebook, while producing the humor and outrageousness of YouTube, with the additional benefit of being cost effective and occurring in real time.”

This was true when he wrote it and remains true today.

In 2017, when it comes to trusting various media channels, radio ranks near the top. And when it comes to reach, radio is at the top. So it should not come as a surprise that radio performs as well as it does for its clients. While digital media channels are extremely effective and mandatory marketing vehicles, capable of providing advertisers with various metrics of performance, traditional media and radio rank at the top in providing advertisers with what could be the most important metric of all — trust.

P.S. Want to deliver an even more trustworthy message? Have a radio personality endorse your product/service.


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