Are You Making The Most Of Sequential Scheduling?

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(By Bob McCurdy) When it comes to the success of radio campaigns, little things can make a big difference and “sequential” commercial integration might be one of those little things. By sequential, I am referring to the rotating in of commercials of various duration at different stages throughout a multi-week flight.

We are strategic in station selection, carefully select days of week and dayparts in which our client’s commercials air, and spend considerable time refining commercial copy, so why not give some thought to when it might make sense to deploy commercials of various lengths to enhance the impact of a campaign?

Agency planners often recommend campaigns that begin with heavier media weight due to creative (complex message) or competitive activity, before pulling back to lower GRP levels as the campaign progresses.

This is an example of a smart, “one size doesn’t fit all” strategic media plan which recognizes that a uniform weekly GRP goal might not be the best way to allocate budget.

Might it then also make sense to consider that utilizing one commercial length throughout a campaign might not be the optimum way to maximize impact?

The answer could be “yes” and the logic is quite simple. The role of a commercial at the beginning of a campaign is often quite different than its role toward the end of a campaign. At the beginning, the commercial serves more of a “teaching” or “awareness” role, which typically requires more time to breakthrough.

Toward the end of a flight, when listeners have heard the commercial multiple times, the commercial tends to take on more of a reminding role and, as we know, it requires less time to remind than to teach. So why continue to air fewer longer units, when it is possible to air more shorter units, which at that campaign juncture deliver the communicative impact of longer units — at less cost.

Let’s be clear, this tactic of rotating in shorter-length commercials is not about saving ad dollars, it is about keeping the same or increasing ad spend by strategically blending in shorter-form commercials to deliver better results, which hopefully leads to a more satisfied client, and quite possibly a more consistent spender.

There are several other benefits of “sequencing” that should be weighed. Sequencing:

– provides another way to commandeer the listener’s attention via new creative.

– enables an advertiser to gain/maintain share of voice.

– is a guerilla-like tactic to compete against a competitor with a larger ad budget.

– enables an advertiser to maintain “continued brand presence,” extending the length of a campaign, as shorter units cost less than longer units.

– Provides an advertiser with the opportunity to communicate “another reason” to purchase/believe.

Too often, we focus on the big idea or search for a new dynamic creative concept, losing sight of the fact that campaign success is rarely a result of some huge, breakthrough concept, but the result of making sure campaign basics are considered and executed properly. Sequential scheduling is one basic that can pay strong revenue dividends.

BTW, this sequencing concept is nothing new. TV’s been doing it for years, starting campaigns with :30s and ending with :15s. It’s a worthwhile concept to keep in mind when strategizing with clients.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at bob.mccurdy@bbgi.com

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