Determining ROI: Digital Radio Ad Campaign vs. Traditional Radio Campaign

by Sarah Hayes on March 22, 2017

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Yes, a lot of people still listen to the radio – some estimates have as many as 93% of U.S. listening to the radio at least once a week. But what does "radio" mean? Are we talking AM or FM? What about Satellite Radio? And let's not forget the rise of internet radio through sources like Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, iTunes Radio, and many other services.

You can see where we're going: Radio is no longer one cohesive channel. Instead it's several different channels that can broadly be categorized as "digital" and "traditional." If you're only focusing on one of them, you may be losing out – so let's take a look at both, and what advantages they bring to the table.

Digital Radio Ad Campaigns

Digital radio refers to all the online radio channels and playlists you can create. It's immensely popular across all industries, and for good reason – it's cheap (typically free), you can listen to it from nearly any connected device, and it has fewer ads and distractions than traditional radio. However, it also comes with some complications: People usually have the option to pay for an ad-free version, so there's not guarantee you'll reach everyone. It's also very music-focused, and not great for those who prefer news or talk/industry shows. There are, of course, podcasts, but those can be difficult to advertise on.

Biggest Pros: Relevance and tools. People love digital radio for good reason, and it's no surprise that you find it playing in most offices and on most computers when people want to listen to music. It’s highly relevant for buyers, and reaches across nearly all industries. Digital radio is also advantageous to marketers for another important reason – it's a lot easier to target ads to specific kinds of listeners, and track the success of those ads using online tools so that you know what's making a difference, and what isn't. To wrap it up, let's look at few big tips for using online radio:

  • Ask What People Prefer: With so many different options, you need to know where to advertise. Find creative ways to ask clients and partners what platforms they listen to, and when they tend to listen (the type of music they like is also a plus). Look for any particular popular podcasts and subscription services in your industry.
  • Target Carefully: Targeting is vital to reaching the right audience. Fortunately, digital media allows for a lot of customized targeting, so you need to use it!
  • Combine with Other Digital Content: If people are listening to digital radio, they're probably already online. That makes it a lot easier to tie into other online activities and content, including your social media campaign. Don't let that opportunity go to waste.

Traditional Radio Campaigns

Traditional radio reach has shrunk significantly in the past several years, but it can still have an impact in the right locations (such as in the car). And, when effective, that reach tends to be very broad, too. These radio ads can reach a whole lot of different people at the same time. However, it's difficult to target to one type of listener, and harder to reach younger audiences that don't listen to radio this way.

Biggest Pros: Cost and Use. Traditional radio campaigns are highly affordable, and getting more affordable all the time, which is great for tighter marketing budgets. This kind of radio also tends to be used in specific ways that other advertising can't reach: There's not much competition for the ears of morning drivers, or for those at a work site without a steady Internet connection.

  • Be Specific: An issue we've seen with radio ads in the past is a lack of specific direction. Ads tend to get too cute or too wrapped up in a specific issue, and by the time the ad is over, listeners aren't quite sure where to go or why they should go there. So get specific with what website to visit, what you offer, and how to contact a rep.
  • Provide Local Benefits: This type of radio is very local in effect – so talk about why you're great for local businesses and how local buyers can benefit from paying attention.
  • Set Clear Goals: Radio experts consistently say that traditional radio advertising requires very clear goals when creating content and measuring success. It's not enough to just throw an ad on the airwaves, it has to be an ad created for a certain customer and designed to increase sales by a certain amount.

Millennial Selling Checkling

Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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