How Radio Advertising is Evolving, and How Marketers Should Be Too

radio advertising With all the discussion about content marketing and the way video is quickly becoming a marketer’s best friend, I was struck by an article over at AdAge about the perhaps erroneous neglect of a certain medium of advertising in the landscape of marketing budgets. “Digital marketers have been so focused on display,” Benjamin Palmer says, “…that we’ve managed to ignore a traditional medium that’s becoming increasingly sophisticated[.]”

Palmer is talking about radio advertising.

He goes on to quote a number of rather impressive stats: “The 13,000 radio stations (about 8,800 FM, 5,000 AM) broadcasting across the U.S. together reach over 94% of the U.S. population 12 years and older each week.” That’s some impressive reach. But what was really fascinating about Palmer’s article was the comparison he makes to the bite-sized nature of successful marketing content and the 10-, 15- and 30-second nature of radio advertisements.

Radio as a Marketing Staple

Successful content marketing consists of entertaining, easily-digestable pieces of media; written, visual, and more. Why don’t we look at radio the same way? If used wisely (and creatively) a radio ad can be so much more than a commercial: it can be similar to a piece of content. Think along the same lines you think to create engaging digital content: be clever, be informative, be memorable, and provide value. Don’t be intimidated by the short time slot: marketers are used to 140-character marketing messages thanks to Twitter. Think what you can do with 30 whole seconds. Marketers today have forgotten about or ignored radio, choosing instead more targeted digital advertising techniques like email, PPC ads, etc. But radio is making a comeback.

Radio is Changing

For terrestrial radio, inserting trackable phone numbers into your radio ads enables you to tie back calls (and the revenue they generate) to the specific ads, radio stations, markets, and even times of day. If you advertise on SiriusXM, you can also get the benefit of displaying that phone number on the LED panel of the satellite radio, making it easy to see and call.

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Aside from the obvious appeal of its reach, the evolution of radio and its presence online and on mobile devices should also appear as a big plus for marketers. With services like Pandora, Spotify, and others internet radio, this medium is no longer just used in the car. Radio has entered the mobile space and that means some important things for marketers who are looking to maximize their exposure.

For example, Spotify users who are listening to the radio on their mobile device are shown a small banner ad to accompany the audio of the advertisement they hear. Tapping the ad carries them to a landing page. With a traditional radio ad, marketers would need to provide a phone number—ideally a unique call tracking number tied to that particular advertisement—somewhere in that 30-second ad, probably repeated more than once, eating up precious time. With this new breed of radio ads, marketers can opt not to provide a phone number in the audio portion and instead provide it on the landing page, where additional information about the product or service can be delivered. That being said, a phone number should be provided somewhere. A recent study by Google revealed that 70% of mobile searches ended in a phone call, after all, so making it easy for mobile users to get in touch with you in the most natural way is critical.

The Link Between New Radio and the Phone

With the radio being used on so many mobile devices, something marketers will need to do is look farther down the road in terms of that marketing strategy. As evidenced by the above statistic, a user who comes to your landing page on their mobile device is more likely to click to call than to send an email or fill out a contact form. Call tracking helps marketers track that call no matter where on the site that person browses, and the call tracking number you assign to that mobile landing page could take the caller to a specifically-designed IVR to qualify the caller before then routing them to a sales agent.

The way radio is changing—paired with its consistently impressive reach—is undoubtedly going to change the way marketers think about their advertising budget, especially as it relates to mobile. Before you shrug off a medium that may at first glance appear as too traditional, take a look at the way it may be ahead of the game.

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  Discuss This Article

Comments: 1

  • Matt Wright says:

    I think that radio advertising is becoming outdated. Typically, when a commercial comes on on the radio the person listening to it turns it to another station. They don’t want to listen to the cheesy ads when they could be listening to music on a different station. It’s different from tv commercials because they provide entertaining visuals and humor that you can’t get from a radio ad. To those that are unable to imagine what is going on without images would be unable to benefit from the information being provided to them from the radio. I feel that radio ads are becoming old fashioned and will soon no longer be in use.

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