No Matt, Radio Is Not Being Duped By Digital.


(By David Ballinger) Saga’s Matt Nystrom wrote an open letter about attribution that was published Tuesday on the Radio Ink website. Matt raised three common questions surrounding attribution that everyone in the industry should know how to answer, and as the founder of AnalyticOwl, I have some easy answers.

First, why would we measure short-term response instead of long-term branding?
We wholeheartedly agree that broadcasters and marketers alike should focus on long-term branding and our system is designed to ingest massive datasets to illuminate the optimal path forward over any period of time. We measure an advertiser’s website and search traffic eight minutes after an ad spot airs, as we’ve found that to be the most accurate and most granular way to ascribe attribution that will result in actionable, directional insights for the long term. For example, does a creative message of free shipping work better than a 20% discount, or does higher frequency in the evening daypart garner more response? Let the audience tell you! No one can claim exact attribution in today’s mixed media world with 100% accuracy…but having measured over 2 billion responses to broadcast commercials, all minute-by-minute, we’ve learned and confirmed that measuring immediate response is critical to optimizing an ad campaign for peak performance over the long term.

Second, what happens if there are two stations airing a spot at the same time? Who gets credit?
There are 5,400 discrete 8-minute windows in a given month, overlap is a rarity — even for a large national advertiser — especially when you geofence website and search traffic responses to specific markets. However, even with this very granular approach, rather than weighting or prorating attribution data we split everything evenly between any instance of overlap stations in a given market because no one can be sure. Ultimately, we’re looking for repeatable patterns derived from a statistically significant frequency of ad spots to derive directional insights to help campaign performance for advertisers — not to be used as the basis for competition between in-market broadcasters. We want all boats to rise!

Third, what about people driving, they can’t respond to an ad if they’re driving?
The truth is that, at an alarming rate, people still use their phones in the car. We don’t like it and don’t condone it, but the IIHS states that 80% of surveyed drivers have used their phones in the car in the past month. We certainly hope that drivers are using voice controls or are typing while pulled over or stopped at a red light, but we don’t control drivers’ (bad) habits. We simply measure the response as it relates to aired ad spots.

In summary, better education is key to success and we appreciate Matt Nystrom highlighting these questions. Attribution is quickly becoming table stakes for everyone in the ecosystem — expected by advertisers and agencies, and we’re happy to report that the radio industry should welcome this new reality. Radio should stand tall, embrace transparency and accountability, and confidently state that their medium works.

David Ballinger is the founder of AnalyticOwl and can be reached at [email protected] 


  1. Having the founder of a company come out and respond to another article that was backed with facts is alarming.

    It’s alarming because the responses seemed as if they were based on what this company wanted the reader to believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

    In my opinion, it reads like a sales pitch, and not a good response.

  2. What’s not a test is the margin of error. No way you can quantify your entire audience response in that window

  3. How about, then, we run this one up the flagpole – just to see if the wind is blowing:
    “Radio Is Duping Radio.”
    How many radio owners REALLY, and I mean REALY, REALLY want to know how well their spots are performing?
    Are vacillating ROI numbers enough to keep on flogging the same ol’ – same ol’?
    Is ignorance bliss after all?
    Apparently so.
    These are the same folks who deny there is any need to do a better job of presenting skilled, on-air performers, and the same gang that refuses to improve the writing and production of locally produced spots.
    This Is Not A Test.


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