‘I Can’t Measure Advertising’


(By Pat Bryson)I can’t measure radio advertising.” Ever heard that? Radio results can be hard to trace because we reach consumers even when they don’t know they are being reached. The messages filter into our brains, lodge in the appropriate “file drawer” and stay there until we need to retrieve the information.

So, by that time, it’s hard to attribute shopping at a particular store or buying a particular product to something we heard on the air. However, we now have factual data proving that our greatest weakness is our greatest strength. 

A couple of years ago, Mindshare, Neurensics, and a Dutch radio station released the results of a study on how radio advertising works on consumers’ brains. They found that commercial messages absorbed subconsciously while listening non-consciously are capable of creating brand associations that last long after the advertising itself is forgotten.

98% of what enters the human ear is absorbed non-consciously. 25 test subjects aged 20-49 had their brain activity scanned while they were being exposed to radio ads. The subjects were told they were participating in a language study and were instructed to do several tasks. Some were simple, but others were more difficult. These difficult tasks required concentration and relegated the radio listening to more of a background activity and thus created non-conscious listening. 

The study concluded that how a radio commercial message enters the brain determines how it is processed. While listening consciously, the listener is more likely to listen critically. When listening non-consciously, while the brain is distracted, the message is more likely to “soak in” uncontested. The commercial message does register. Background listening is effective in reinforcing and strengthening existing brand associations and can influence brand selection. Call-to-action messages will be more impactful when consumers are consciously listening. 

Our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. Radio works! We just don’t always get the credit we deserve! 

Happy Selling!

Pat Bryson is the CEO of Bryson Broadcasting International, a consulting firm that works with sales managers and salespeople to raise revenue. She is the author of two books, A Road Map to Success in High-Dollar Broadcast Sales and Successful Broadcast Sales: Thriving in Change available on her website. Read Pat’s Radio Ink archives here.


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