Why Every Media Mix Should Include Radio


(By Bob McCurdy) Several weeks back, a noteworthy study was released that demonstrated the synergetic nature between AM/FM radio and TV. The study, conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Westwood One, focused on a major motorcycle manufacturer’s NCAA basketball and NFL football radio and TV advertising campaign. The results are a powerful addition to our “why radio” quiver and can be found here.

Too often, we read about studies similar to this one, discuss them with clients for a couple of days and then move on to the next thing, but this study’s conclusions are worthy of a longer “shelf life” and should be discussed with key agencies and advertisers for a couple of reasons. First and most obviously is because of the positive metrics and the research company involved in generating them, but also because of the projectable marketing principles that positively impact all media-mix campaigns.

This Nielsen/Westwood One study confirms what we have long espoused: that there is considerable synergy between radio and TV as the key performance metrics of those exposed to the advertiser’s commercial messaging on radio and TV out-performed those exposed to only TV:

  • Ad recall for this motorcycle nameplate was 58% higher among motorcycle owners exposed to its NFL radio and TV messaging versus those only exposed to its TV commercials.
  • Those exposed to its NCAA basketball radio and TV’s messaging were 33% more inclined to visit its website than those only exposed to its TV commercials.
  • Purchase intent increased 63% for those exposed to its NCAA basketball radio and TV messaging versus those exposed to only its TV messaging.

The NCAA basketball ad recall of those who had ever owned a motorcycle was almost double that of the two other demos measured, which was likely due to “selective perception.” Selective perception is a marketing phenomenon whereby consumers tend to pay more attention to products they currently use or have previously used. This is one reason why “challenger” products/services need to outspend established products/services.

The other marketing principles that also likely influenced this study’s results are:

  • Complementary Effects/Synergy: When several media are involved in an ad campaign, the advertiser can profit from the strength of each medium. The combined effect of multiple marketing communication activities usually exceed the sum of their individual effects, as the same number of exposures in multiple media are more effective than the same number of exposures in a single medium.
  • Multiple Source Credibility: Occurs when consumers exposed to commercial messaging in multiple media perceive each medium’s messaging as a somewhat independent source of information and therefore more credible and persuasive, i.e. “I heard this somewhere before so it must be true.”
  • Encoding Variability: Depending on the medium, different “senses” are involved in the processing of its commercial messaging. Non-verbal and verbal media are processed using two different cognitive subsystems, one for sound only (audio) and one for nonverbal (pictures, motion) and when multiple media are involved, the messaging is processed in a more complex, enduring fashion.
  • Forward encoding or “priming”: Priming also likely played a role in the study’s positive results. Priming contends that exposure to an advertisement in one medium often stimulates interest and curiosity in subsequent advertisement exposures in other media, i.e. one medium “primes” interest in the ad experienced in a second.

The bottom line is that understanding these marketing principles not only enhances credibility and the credibility of the results, but also enables us to better communicate the “why” behind the data and engage in deeper, more effective discussions regarding the benefits of any media mix that includes or should include radio.

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


  1. That’s not nice!

    Radio does get results!

    We as broadcasters must remain united without public comments about other broadcasters.

    There’s plenty of pizza for us all!

    Not to mention plenty of morsels for the smaller bird to enjoy as well!

    Each of us have our own approach to winning advertisers and listners. They all have different tastes. You can’t make everyone happy- but try…

    Radio sales is like investing- tell the truth, price your inventory so it’s affordable and sell from your heart!

    The station I recently purchased and now own, WELJ FM (6,000 watt class A Commercial FM serving Long Islands East End, the Hamptons and Southern Ct.) is on the air to serve the public interest of the communities we are licensed to serve.

    Let’s not forget when we win a client we help our economy by helping them thrive and our stations profit and we make a few bucks commission. If you care about your clients they will be back because we help them to feed their families…

    When we go into a business to try and get them to invest in our air time we care about our clients- no matter how big or small the market remember these people are our friends and neighbors with families to feed and we’re there to help them!

    If you like spend 5 minutes and listen to us-

    Listen live

  2. Note to shelly:
    As Cumulus, once again and like genetically predisposed lemmings, throws itself into the abyss of the penny stock, I would be the last trainer to be summoned.
    Panic and despair are hardly the states in which imaginative, clear and precise thinking can be undertaken.
    As to radio in general: There’s a lot of that going around.
    Even Bob is being denounced. And for what? Making sense?

  3. As I read the preceding comments I am somewhat baffled. I think Bob makes an excellent point that I consider, particularly when I am planning radio for my clients. Having been in both on-air and sales in radio for almost two decades before moving to the content and buying side for my clients, I fully understand the logic of how much more effectively a budget can be utilized by considering time, place, context and condition when speaking to a consumer. Nobody listens to or watches one medium exclusively. I believe Bob makes an excellent point that should garner more revenue potential for radio, not lose it. It’s all about product sales, brand recall or brand perception. It’s not just about you and your share, it’s about the success of your clients. Think about how people consume the messaging they are exposed to and where they get it and offer a more enlightened approach next time. TV or video is so much easier to use these days and there are many more audio choices. Wake up and read Bob’s fine article again, and you’ll understand his real point. Migrate video dollars to radio for a more effective overall campaign and result for your clients and potential clients. The logic and data are there. Good article Bob.

  4. Allow me to yank any pedestals out from which so many of the sales-gang are perching themselves.
    Radio is rife with uninformed, uneducated and poorly-managed sales staffs – many of which are just this side of hucksters and hustlers.
    Further, anyone who would deny even the consideration of more education from whatever the source, is just doubling down on their own ignorance – even some of those who are making a nice living.
    Asking a client “what they want” is revealing, and on a number of levels.
    The rep is willing to bend over to: 1.get the booking. 2. Show deference to a client who like doesn’t have a clue either – as they sell tires. They don’t generate advertising. And, 3. The rep has no clue of their own as to what constitutes effective advertising. (But, that’swhy we have napkins for scratching out copy.)
    Lucky it is for everybody that radio still enjoys an innate power to influence.
    Radio – topped out at 7% percent. And almost nobody chases the reasons or attempts to discern a rational for this circumstance.

    • Ronnie,

      Has Cumulus called yet? With all your compelling sales logic that you share from 40+years behind the mic, I’d think Mary would be clamoring for your assistance.

  5. Creative director, on-air, writer and…..coach?
    Not many coaches at the radio sales departments I’ve sold at. The others, copywriter, blah,blah, did what they were told, if we were lucky. A few could write spots, women, but the salespeople had to rough everything out.
    It worked best that way because the salespeople spent the time with clients and knew what they wanted. Copywriters usually had to be heavily edited, tending to be far too flowery. I’d never have Robinson at my stations, the way he argues with career salespeople. Especially if he’s never sold.

  6. In case I might have missed something, was there a rebuttal in either of those comments?
    Silly, uniformed people abound. Even as an on-air guy, creative director, writer and coach, I have likely had more time with the sale departments during my career than some who haven’t even passed the 30-year mark, but who are still willing to drop innocuous comments here.
    Bob brings serious issues to the table.
    Grown-ups who have big-boy pants in their ensembles are required to address these issues.

  7. Can someone tell Robinson that we really get more than enough of his narcissism in his own periodic blogs at the Radioink site. Like others have said, sales is not his game and his feeble comments on the topic prove it.

  8. Ronnie,

    How many advertiser clients have you ever sold? None, right?
    Please, just keep playing SFX with your golden throat mixed in. You are way out of your league here.

  9. Any suggestion that an advertiser split their budget – in any way – is akin to apostasy. In some jurisdictions, it’s a hangin’ offense.
    Radio has continuously argued the obviously-accepted premise that any dollars that go to so-called “competing” media are dollars the radio reps don’t get.
    Of course, there is also the equally obvious spectre of lost commissions for the radio reps. I have been hearing that noise for my entire career.

    Attacking potential advertisers with an “our medium only” approach is an insult to the advertisers we are (supposedly) serving.

    Radio gets 7% of the available revenue because radio has yet to earn the trust of current advertisers – even though radio’s “story” is actually quite compelling – as a stand-alone concept.

    This philosophy of fear and the need to make budget for the current month doesn’t even begin to address the absolute need for radio to start generating more interesting, compelling and influential ads. That part isn’t even on the table.

    Radio is living in a bubble of its own creation, and, as such, finds itself starved of oxygen – an element necessary for clear and critical thinking.

  10. Bob,

    I know you mean well and I’m sure some trembling young radio salespeople will find solace in your approach, but…….

    Can you imagine TV or newspapers taking a similar approach? Can you imagine TV or newspapers incorporating “some TV” or “some newspaper” in their pitch to clients? Can you imagine them saying “Go ahead. Buy a lot of radio, but include ‘some TV in your media mix.”
    The RAB first started using your media mix approach back in the 60s; it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
    When you tell a client to use “some” of your advertising product, you’re really saying..we can’t get the job done for you alone. The client really wonders why you’re selling approach advocates using competitive media.
    The car dealer would never suggest using his store for “some” of your automotive needs.
    Your supermarket would never suggest using his mart for “some” of your grocery needs.

    Don’t think your station can do the advertising job alone? Then you are a primary reason why radio gets 7% of all ad dollars and I really hope you leave the business. Make it this week.


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