Radio Advertising

Not Much Cop?

Some musings on radio's continued relevance as an advertising medium.

39% of people said, “Radio ads have prompted me to search for something on the Internet"

In the midst of some chilled, grade-A Jazz, the volume jumps up markedly, suddenly. I look across to Giles and lambast him for messing with the volume, just for the ad breaks, the fool! He says it wasn’t him, and calls me a Buffoon. I ridicule him further for using the word ‘Buffoon’. We then both blame George. The usually peaceful, quiet George storms out whilst spewing an expletive-riddled rant, but in essence says; ‘I’m not having this, not after the Heart FM debacle of 2013.’ From the far side of the room, Sophie fires a Nerf gun, hitting Andrew in the left temple. She was trying to hit me, but her aim is appalling. Andrew hadn’t done anything, to be fair. But he is from Newcastle. Kira, the youngest of our number, looks at us all as if we are children.

So, with all tranquility annihilated, we soon realise that the naughty so and so’s at Jazz FM have upped the volume themselves, just for the ads. Some baratoned berk pretends to be Martine McCutcheon, in an attempt to sell something that I cannot actually even recall now. The whole concept has a laboured, predictable ‘zaniness’. It actually prompts us to change stations.

So, not a great experience of radio advertising, but only a fool would judge it solely on this. Although, when working on brief documents in the pitching process I often see ‘Radio’ as one of the tick-box options for possible media routes. The potential new client often leaves it empty. We don’t often consider it at great length.

Radio can often be seen as the medium with the annoying jingle, or those cost-conscious ads that speedily spiel the T’s and C’s into the smallest amount of time possible. You could argue that a jingle has to be annoying to leap out of the background medium that is radio if it is to break the listeners reverie, which actually doesn't lend itself to great creativity, as evidenced above.

So, is radio still relevant?

Despite it’s annoying elements, yes it is, and here is why.

It has huge reach. One of the oldest of mediums, it still has meaty numbers. Approximately 92% of consumers aged 12 years or older listen to radio every week. Yet also, with such an eclectic array of music and talk shows, you already have ready-made tailored, targeted audiences. Relevancy should be very achievable.

With radio, you have the distinct advantage of knowing what people are doing at certain times of the day, when they will be all ears. In the mornings, it is the commute to work, gridlocked roads. Perfect time for TFL to talk about the merits of Oyster cards, for example.

Despite Gasp’s indignant changing of stations, radio actually has low levels of ad avoidance. To have a person’s attention for some 30-60 seconds in these times is a precious thing.

It is an over-used phrase in marketing, but radio is a medium that delivers a true call to action. A simple message, slogan, that gets lodged in the brain. A project carried out by the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) revealed that 39% of people said, “Radio ads have prompted me to search for something on the Internet.”

Despite what you may think, it is possible to track the performance of a radio ad campaign, via the use of codes, unique numbers, call logs and website registration details.

Maybe it is the remnants of the Oral Tradition, but to simply hear a voice is a personal, comforting thing. It is a fundamental, human instinct that means people still listen to radio in such vast numbers.

My talented Blogfather predecessor, Ollie, blogged on this example of a great radio advert.

In his words:

“This ad reduces the destruction down into a shape that people can understand, in the form of the sound of a bullet being dropped onto a table, then builds it up into proportions that rapidly become alarming. The words ‘…in the first hour of the battle’ serve as a harrowing climax, guaranteed to cause a sharp intake of breath in the listener.”

It certainly has an authentic, emotive voice and power. Something that is very hard to create successfully. You can certainly achieve a strong human connection via radio. It’s a medium we’d like to have a chance to explore more.

We had a little taste of it this very afternoon, though, as a client of ours had a relaxed, fun interview with Paul Ross on BBC radio, discussing a new short story competition we have devised for them (go check it out here, you creative types: www.dragonflyshortstory.com). It served as a further reminder of how personable in reach the medium of radio can be.

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