Radio Gears Up to Offer What Advertisers Want

Media Post, Steven Minisini and Deborah Esayian

Ten years ago, 8% of the annual U.S. advertising spend was on radio. Today, that number has dropped to 5%. While this is a serious problem for radio, many companies are working to take what radio does best -- create highly engaged and loyal audiences -- and build on it to become a significant force in today's media landscape.

By offering solutions that will enable radio to evolve from a push medium to a two-way dialogue and better understand its audiences, radio will be able to deliver advertisers more effective and measurable campaigns, closing the gap between what advertisers' want and what most media companies with a stake in radio can actually produce.

Strength, Stability and Widespread Appeal

It's undeniable that more people interact with radio than any other medium. According to RADAR, in 2010 nearly 220 million people ages 12+ tuned into radio at least once a week, up from 213 million in 2009. Today, radio reaches 93.1% of the U.S. population and these numbers are even greater in the urban, African-American and Hispanic markets.

Get Consumers to Share More and Spend More

What radio has that many other channels are struggling to obtain is trust. In a recent study conducted by RazorFish, it was revealed that trust was one of the single most important factors related to customer engagement with a brand message. An equally important engagement element identified in the study was value -- another trait that radio has accomplished with relative ease. In the study, trust and value ranked significantly higher than ad relevance, message consistency and control of how an ad is delivered.

Thanks to data from a number of recent listener engagement campaigns, it has been proved what those in radio have long assumed: Radio listeners are much more likely to volunteer personal information to their most-listened-to stations than they are with other channels, namely the Internet and social media outlets.

For instance, listeners often text message their song requests into radio stations or complete online submission forms for contests or sweepstakes on their favorite station's Web site. Both of these examples illustrate the level to which listeners trust their stations and perceive value from interacting with them.

What does this mean for advertisers and marketers?

Advanced technology now allows radio stations to identify and numerate their most highly engaged audience members and interact with them through multiple channels: radio, mobile, interactive and more, ultimately getting consumers to share more and spend more.

This presents an opportunity to offer a significant value proposition with hyper-targeting and measurement of return-on-advertising dollars. Multi-channel, cross-media engagement is essential as multiple touch points serve to build richer multidimensional consumer profiles that are critical to hyper-targeting.

Empowering Radio To Become A Local Advertisers Dream

Today, radio receives less than its fair share of advertising spend. In order for our industry to advance successfully, media industry providers need to work together to combine essential infrastructure and technology solutions to provide an integrated and open platform that advertisers, brand marketers and media buyers can use.

Many in the radio industry decided that it was time to develop new solutions for the industry with the right engagement and accountability tools to ensure that radio professionals and advertisers can leverage the highly engaged local audiences and effectively compete for new and emerging advertising dollars. This is why Marketron has partnered with Emmis Interactive and is integrating the Marketron Mediascape Platform and Emmis Interactive Digitial Suite, which includes BaseStation (an advanced CMS) and GeoStation, user-level analytics platform

There is no doubt that radio needs to advance into the 21st century and capitalize on the opportunity that is available through newer digital media channels; these partnerships are the first step. The collaboration helps media organizations tap into the technologies and services required to build profitable digital businesses, while enhancing more traditional advertising opportunities through superior accountability and audience interaction.

Access, impact and measurement are essential for the future success of radio as an advertising channel. These kinds of partnerships provide the industry with proven solutions and choice, a good foundation to build on. Through these cooperative partnerships, the industry is making it easier for marketers to track their radio advertising and audience, regardless of the medium that is used: broadcast, mobile, online and everything in between.

Coupled with radio's undeniable strengths -- trust, value and localization -- it makes for a very powerful marketing tool which will not be underestimated by advertisers that know the value of targeted, trackable campaigns.