What Advertisers Think About Local Radio


(By Bob McCurdy) Bill Duggan, the much-respected EVP at the Association of National Advertisers was kind enough to join us at our managers meeting last week. In prep for the meeting, Bill reached out to members of the ANA Media Leadership Committee to get an advertiser POV on local radio, both positive and negative. Some of what Bill shared with us follows along with a few of my comments:

DJ Endorsements Can Be Powerful

“Marketers are increasingly interested in making authentic, emotional connections with audiences. In markets where there are longer commute times, the daily connectivity between the local DJ and his/her audience, particularly in rush hours, is an opportunity for marketers to make a meaningful connection. We have had success entrusting DJs to do live reads, in their own words and with their own flair, on a number of high-profile initiatives, and will continue to use that tactic moving forward. Local DJs can hit the marketplace like a sledgehammer through plate glass. You can’t replicate, in any other medium, someone who lives in the same market as the audience and is speaking to that audience in their own vernacular and with the reach of radio.”

o    Comment: Personality endorsements resonated with a number of responding advertisers. Endorsements are truly one of our USPs. Love the comment, “Local DJs can hit the marketplace like a sledgehammer through plate glass.” When asked by the New York Times recently why he left a TV career for a radio career, WFAN’s Mike Francesa responded, “What radio does more than any other medium is it allows you to really get close to your audience. When you do TV, they acknowledge you, they nod their head. But when you do radio, they feel like they know everything about you. They feel like they’re your best friend — or maybe your worst enemy, if they don’t like you.” Francesa’s comments brought to mind a quote by New York radio personality Jim Kerr, who once said that the bond between a radio personality and a listener “is the closest thing you’ll ever get in media to two neighbors talking over the backyard fence.” These two legendary radio performers enunciated perfectly why personality endorsements are such an effective marketing opportunity.

Radio Delivers Advertising Messaging In Context

“What it provides is precision. I know that a lot of cravings for our products happen in the afternoon around drive time. Say I could get some on-air radio mentions to remind people to just pick up my product on the way home. That could be interesting.”

o   Comment: Targeting-in-time and delivering a nearness-to-purchase message are two key strengths of radio. Radio is a “transition” medium, reaching listeners when they are segueing between life roles which have different needs/responsibilities, enabling an advertiser to deliver messaging when it is most relevant and when immediate action can be taken.

“Since radio listening often takes place in a car, that provides a perfect opportunity to reach listeners about car insurance,” according to an insurance company member.

o   Comment: Contextual advertising at its finest. Same when marketing automobiles, auto parts, etc.

Retailers And Local Dealers

“Radio remotes are valuable to our retail partners in delivering sales.”

o   Comment: “Onsite” presence, another radio USP which generates return-on-investment.

Critiques That Stand Out:

“One of the challenges we have with local radio is it hasn’t performed well in our marketing-mix modeling. So it doesn’t get a lot of support from the brand teams.”

o   Comment: To perform well in mix modeling requires that radio be given a large enough percentage of the ad spend to have the opportunity to be accurately accessed in the media-mix modeling. This is often not the case. It’s extremely difficult to effectively “tease” out the impact of any medium when it is allocated 5% or less of a media budget. Additionally, mix models require variation in media weight to read effects; radio’s GRPs are often uniform throughout a campaign. Plus, radio’s current audience data averages radio weight across weeks/months (PPM) which does not provide the granularity mix models required to accurately determine radio’s impact. Diary data, reported as a 3-month average, is even less conducive to “teasing” out accurate cause and effect.

“I think a challenge with local radio is it doesn’t get the creative attention it needs to be effective. You have to make it a priority to get better creative and then better ROI results.”

o   Comment: Fact is no medium is inherently more engaging than any other. This individual was dead-on. If an advertiser wants more engagement with their ads, they must generate better creative. Studies have shown that 75% of the success or failure of an ad campaign is contingent upon the creative. Our work doesn’t end when we get the order, it begins, as making sure the right creative airs is the first step toward a renewal.

“For a company like ours, what I need is scale. Local radio just doesn’t give that to me.”

o   Comment: We need to do a better job communicating the reach and scheduling story. Scale can be efficiently and quickly achieved when local radio is purchased with the right spot-load across multiple stations.

Some encouraging and supportive comments regarding our medium and some issues for us to address from some of the most sophisticated marketers in the world. If you’d like to read Bill Duggan’s blog from which these quotes were extracted, it can be found here. By the way, there are always some terrific articles on the ANA’s Marketing Maestros page,;you might want to bookmark it.

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


  1. Advertiser: Give my product or service to the mouth of a presenter? I don’t think so. Not unless he’s going to be my brand ambassador and not be seen holding a competitor’s beer…. driving a competitor’s car.

    Radio Station: Give my radio station content over to an advertiser? I don’t think so. I don’t want my DJs to lose their credibility or trust with the listener because 1 week they’re promoting this brand and the next week another.

    Listener: Want to win stuff… or hear music… not hear 12 product points rattled off by Jeff who sounds like he really doesn’t want to be doing it.

    Give me a well crafted radio spot, prerecorded and controlled word of mouth, every time.

  2. Bob has been tenacious in providing legitimate justifications for advertisers to use, and enjoy the ROI benefits of the medium when it is engaged with an appropriate time buy and scheduling.
    To his credit, Bob also demonstrates a full awareness that: Without compelling Creative – or even just better copy, the odds of generating a successful ad campaign become significantly longer.
    This abdication of the other of the two main responsibilities the medium has jettisoned only adds more weight to the balls and chains that radio has forged – and manacled to itself.

  3. Getting enough budget to demonstrate Radio’s effectiveness in a media mix IS the challenge. The phrase we used was “Dollar for dollar and time for time – Radio gers results equal to – or better than – any other media!!”


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