Why Visuals Boost Radio Ads


Growing up in the media business, we’ve always heard about the importance of pictures. Remember those car dealers telling us how they had to be in the newspaper because of the pictures? Go to any social media seminar today and the guru at the front of the room will tell you that posts are more powerful with pictures and video. So how does this translate to radio?

Westwood One’s Pierre Bouvard is out with a blog detailing a new study that shows ads paired with in-car visuals generated significant store visits for a major retailer.

Bouvard says a major retailer executed a national radio ad campaign that utilized a visual synced to their radio ads. Westwood One commissioned a study with MARU/Vision Critical of consumers with vehicles with the next generation HD Radios to see how the campaign performed

Here are the major findings from the study

  1. Heavy AM/FM radio listeners and those who spend the most time in their car regularly pay attention to in-car display screens. Sixty-four percent of heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they regularly pay attention to their in-car display screen. Even more notable, the more time consumers spend in the car, the more they pay attention — 68% of those who spend 11+ hours weekly in the car regularly pay attention to the display screen.
  2. Heavy AM/FM radio listeners recall seeing visual information from in-car display screens about the advertiser whose AM/FM radio ad was playing. Two-thirds, 66%, of heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they have frequently or occasionally seen advertiser names or logos on their in-car radio display screens.
  3. Consumers who regularly viewed their in-car display were more likely to recall the advertiser’s radio ads. The combination of the in-dash visual and the AM/FM radio ad grows advertising recall. Overall, 50% of all consumers said they recall ads for the retailer. An impressive 66% of regular in-dash radio display viewers could recall the retailer’s AM/FM radio ads, a 30% improvement.
  4. Those who recall the retailer’s in-car visuals were more likely to visit the stores. 75% of those who remember the AM/FM radio ad overall said they had visited or intended to visit the retailer. Among those who recalled seeing the in-car visual synced to the radio ad, 84% said they had visited or intended to shop at the retailer, a 12% lift.
  5. Recall for the products advertised in the AM/FM radio ad was stronger among heavy radio listeners and those that spent a lot of time in visual display vehicles. Sixty-four percent of heavy AM/FM radio listeners who recalled the major retailer’s advertising remembered the specific service featured in the ad. Sixty-three percent of regular in-car display viewers could recall the correct messaging.
Note: Sample size of the MARU In-Car Visual Study was 474 Adults 18+ whose primary vehicle has an Xperi HD Radio with “Artist Experience.” 


  1. So, uh, Pierre.
    A single static image?
    Like an indoor billboard. Or a funky image that requires MORE attention to impact?
    This makes everything alright or even better?
    C’mon, man.

  2. I am as anyone who knows me a big big fan of radio. My career began there. This, however, gives me great concern. I have to agree with Ronald T. We do not need to give most of the moron drivers another reason to take their eyes off the road. People still on cell phones and should not be, people texting and should not be, and now we want to encourage them to look at their dashboard to see visual info for the ad playing on the radio. Not a good image for the industry or a station and looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Let alone someone getting hurt or worse. I am also sure the insurance industry would not love this. I know and respect Pierre Bouvard as one of the best in the media industry. On this issue my friend I must disagree.

  3. Lovely!
    What we really need are more in-car radio listeners paying more attention to the in-dash video, and to hell with rear ending unseen vehicles, driving out of the lanes and knocking off a few more available pedestrians. The technical term to which I am heading is: Insane!

    Besides, words and sounds – you know, the elements that make up effective radio commercials through the process once known as “Theatre-of-the-mind”, can generate more luscious and powerful “visuals” than any video screen. Cheaper, too!

    Further, the Holy Grail of “RECALL” is not even required to generate “BEHAVIOUR”. (Try sucking on that, for awhile.)
    This is almost a dead issue, still on life-support – soaking up resources.
    I am reminded of the scrambled assertions of the need for a sea-to-sea shining wall.
    C’mon, man!


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