Tag Archives: Radio

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Radio Upfronts: 4 Powerful Ways to Maximize Your Sales

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Contributor: Stu Jacobs, President, Mr. Master

While TV’s upfronts season traditionally takes place in May, the radio industry’s upfronts season takes place in September and into October. Upfronts are a chance for radio – on a national, regional, or local level – to secure business for the duration of the following calendar year. This benefits radio by securing committed ad dollars well in advance. It also benefits advertisers by allowing them to see what new shows, content or event opportunities a cluster, station, radio group, or network has planned for the upcoming year. In addition, upfronts allow brands and agencies to strategically plan their advertising dollars, book ads at scale, access premium inventory and secure efficient pricing. It’s a win-win opportunity for all.

As radio enters its upfronts season, Mr. Master – an organization focused on compliance and content distribution software – has compiled some of our top 4 powerful sales tips to help you maximize your sales efforts

  1. Create an Upfronts Event

Differentiate your upfronts pitch from your standard renewal or new business efforts by transforming your upfronts sales cycle into a truly special event. You can think of this like a typical promotion, but instead of your listeners attending, your clients are the target audience. For example, you could do a virtual or in-person summit featuring your on-air talent, as well as artists that your station plays. You could give away or ship swag bags featuring a memorable premium item to your clients, or if you wanted to create a virtual interactive experience, you could create a stay-at-home online class with a celebrity. So, for example, imagine your clients making pizzas with a pop star. You can partner with a local restaurant to have all of the ingredients shipped to attendees in advance and could draw up custom instructions that creatively relate all of the ingredients back to your company’s sales opportunities.  

2. Get Creative with Your Pitch

If you are looking to cut through the clutter and get the attention of a key prospect/client, don’t be afraid to get creative with your pitch deck. For example, enlist the help of your marketing team to create a pitch deck in the format of a branded menu for a restaurant chain. If you are pitching a beverage company, you could relabel some of its products with a design that incorporates your sales messaging copy points. If the beverage brand in question has different flavors, each flavor could be a different selling point, i.e. one for radio, one for digital, one for events, one for integrations, etc. Your imagination has no limit.

3. Utilize the RAB’s “Why Radio?” Data

If you need data to help tell the story of radio – and just how powerful it is – the RAB is a wonderful resource to get free and helpful information. For example, visit the RAB’s Why Radio microsite to create custom reports with industry and consumer data that you can incorporate as proof points.

4. Deliver 100% Ad Accountability

One way to maximize your upfronts sales potential and make the most of your inventory is by minimizing the need for network makegoods. Use software to automate traffic and production workflows and process network spots — essentially eliminating the need to do makegoods. Compliance software can also post affidavits within 24 hours and provide client shareable analytics on-par with digital. Software such as Automation Import Manager (AIM) can be a great solution to get the most out of your network inventory during the upfronts season. 

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Podcast and Broadcast Radio – Listeners in Common

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

The growth in audio usage across all platforms and devices has been incredible. One segment of that growth has captured a lot of attention – podcasts. Podcast listeners have been considered a niche audience. Do they differ from broadcast listeners, and what are their views about broadcast radio?

Whether it is podcast or broadcast, these two groups of listeners are not exclusive to each platform but in fact have very similar views and perspectives. Seventy-two percent of adults who have listened to a podcast in the past month have listened to AM/FM radio. Of those adults who listened to a podcast in the past month, 62% listen to radio.

Like their broadcast counterparts, podcast listeners are influenced by the ads they hear on podcasts. Thirty-nine percent will visit an advertiser’s site or search for more information, and 37% would consider purchasing the product. When it comes to radio, 42% of podcast listeners believe that radio keeps them informed and up to date, while 32% believe that radio is a good source of learning.

The point of this is to highlight the value that audio offers – to listeners, consumers, shoppers and the advertisers who are trying to reach them. Audio, whether it is broadcast or its prerecorded cousin, podcasts, not only informs but also serves as an emotional role for the listener.

Radio relaxes podcast listeners (42%) and 43% believe it puts them in a good mood. Radio listeners have similar emotional views of radio – relaxing them (48%) and putting them in a good mood.

These audio listeners are also connected with the hosts that entertain them – 72% of podcast listeners feel close to the podcast hosts or narrators. Of those adults who visited a radio station, program or personality’s site, 85% of them are radio listeners. Also, podcasts listeners are 57% more likely than the U.S. population to do the same.

When it comes to time spent listening, there are differences. Adults 18+ tune into broadcast radio 11.8 hours every week based on Nielsen’s June RADAR. However, only 30% of podcast-listening adults 18+ listen for to podcasts for three hours or less weekly.

Audio usage is on the rise and whether it is podcast or broadcast, listeners are engaged – connected both emotionally and intellectually. Each provides content, information, entertainment in a positive environment. Advertisers can benefit by using both to reach current and potential consumers of their products and services. Podcast listeners appreciate broadcast radio’s attributes and benefits and, more importantly, tune in to AM/FM radio. Whether it is podcast or broadcast, the listeners are all ears. That’s probably why they have so much in common.

Sources: MRI-Simmons: 2021 August Podcast Study and 2020 Doublebase; Nielsen RADAR 149, June 2021

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Radio – A Booster for Wellness

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

While many behaviors shifted during the pandemic, Americans became more aware of their overall health and wellness. As consumers focused on exercise and rediscovered the outdoors, many reviewed their intake of vitamins, supplements and nutrients as a way to improve and or boost their immunities.

According to a survey released by the American Osteopathic Association, 86% of Americans take vitamins. While this intake may be based on a physician’s referral, many Americans intake supplements based on research for their needs or due to information shared by friends or family.

As adults started to focus more on their overall wellness, the vitamin industry experienced a boost in sales. Adults who were already including vitamins and nutrients as part of their overall wellness regime increased their consumption. Nearly two in five supplement users changed their consumption at the onset of the pandemic with 91% increasing consumption. Additionally, according to a survey released by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 83% of adults believe that vitamins and supplements play a role in their overall health and wellness. The vitamins and supplements that saw the biggest intake boost were multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc, followed by others.

As a niche group, how do you reach those adults who are looking for new ways to live a healthier life and believe in long-term benefits? Radio, of course.

Based on an analysis of over 150,000 radio ads that ran through the first eight months of 2021, radio boosted vitamin/nutrient retailer site activity by 7%. According to the NumericOwl data, radio delivered over 5,300 new visitors after exposure to a radio ad. Highest new visitor activity was achieved on Thursday, followed by Friday.  Additionally, radio drove a significant increase in traffic when ads were on air versus days not on air – a 228% increase in new users and 191% increase in total users. This increase is indicative of radio’s power to influence consumer behavior and move them along the next steps of the purchase funnel – brand consideration and eventually, brand purchase.

While those focused on wellness might be thought to be “early-to-bed” folks, it is Evening that had the highest number of new visits per airing. While one might assume that Morning Drive would deliver the highest activity rate, it delivered the lowest number of new visits per airing despite delivering the same level of new users as Afternoon. Here’s a daypart that advertisers in this category should definitely consider as a booster for their online sites – Overnight. Overnight is an often-overlooked daypart but as we have seen in other ad categories, it can be a valuable daypart for driving traffic to advertiser websites.

As a high-reach medium consumed by adults of various lifestyles and backgrounds, it also provides the perfect platform to reach consumers – from the die-hard wellness fan to the health and wellness novice. Radio not only helps boost emotional attitudes and wellness, but it can aid physically as well. 

Click here to view the entire analysis.

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Marketers Ride New Waves of Radio Advertising

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Author: Tammy Greenberg, SVP/Business Development, RAB

One of the hottest trends in advertising is “screen-free media,” as people liberate their eyeballs and engage their ears with a potpourri of audio programming. However, for marketers to capitalize on the audio renaissance, they must develop an audio strategy that goes beyond ad buying and adopts a distinctive voice and sound for their brands, according to the Carat Trends 2021 report, titled “The Year of Emotionally Intelligent Marketing.”

The diversification of audio platforms and the attention audio commands among consumers has opened up tremendous opportunity for brands to expand their audio strategies and grow their audiences.

As broadcast radio remains the king of the audio universe, providing the pervasive scale and reach, omnipresent ease of access, local relevance and personalized, immersive experiences, the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) talked with media and marketing industry leaders and asked them to provide their experience, thoughts and advice that will help stimulate growth for marketers as they navigate audio’s effective use for their brands.

“The ad community is looking at audio in a totally new way, just as they looked at radio in a new way when FM came along and television in a new way when cable came along,” says Jack Myers, media ecologist and founder of MediaVillage. He adds, “Marketers are still catching up with the trend and, in many cases, radio continues to be somewhat of a second-class citizen when, in reality, all the statistics prove it is the dominant force in audio. As the shift from radio to a broader audio perspective continues to grow, the core value of radio must be recognized as the dominant force in audio.”

Painting a Picture
Myers’ advice to marketers evokes a strategy attributed to Phil Guarascio, former CMO at General Motors. To wit, 5 percent of every budget should be reserved for innovation. Looking to innovate in audio, for instance, brands have landed on podcasting. These brands often end up in the hands of radio broadcasters who can help them broaden their reach, leverage radio as a megaphone, and generate growth.

Asked about the role that radio plays in the marketing mix, Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), says that because consumers “are inundated with ads, audio and radio offer a very different and effective alternative to capturing consumer attention while adding complementary scale.”

Kaplowitz stresses that the biggest challenge for brands and agencies tends to be creative. “It is a given that adding radio to a media mix is going to extend the reach and provide the opportunity to engage consumers differently,” she says. “To be successful, brands must be thoughtful about the right execution because audio is not stimulating the other senses in the same way as visual media can. Brands must really focus on allowing the consumer to create their own visual sense connected to the audio advertising that invites them in.”

Kristy Carruba, director of audio strategy and planning at Macy’s, who has been on the buy side of the media industry for decades, has always been a fan of audio branding.

Carruba took part in an Audacy-hosted webinar in which she emphasized that audio is at the forefront of media planning now more than ever. “People create habits and relationships with audio and there is a tremendous amount of comfort they have with the medium,” Carruba told the RAB. “Audio is so good at storytelling and podcast hosts have incredible influence over our customers; we see it in results.” Carruba adds that marketers ignore radio at their own peril. “It’s a big miss if audio is not part of the plan,” she says. “It’s easy, it’s efficient, and it connects with our audiences through the power of storytelling.”

Relaxium is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) natural sleep aid brand in an increasingly competitive market that established itself on television and has recently expanded into radio. Timea Ciliberti, CEO and founder of Relaxium, leverages the medium because it is cost-effective and provides the scale that can generate not only a profitable return, but also a boost in brand awareness.

“We know that our customers listen to radio and we want to make sure we reach others who struggle to get a good night’s sleep,” she says. “Radio endorsers bring an added layer of credibility to the advertising and have loyal fans who really trust their opinions.”

When it comes to identifying the radio endorsers, or influencers, Ciliberti advises marketers to partner with on-air talent who are also consumers with a deep passion for the brand. The more loyal a consumer, the more trusted the conversation for the listening audience.

National Reach, Local Flavor
Radio has a long and proven track record of partnering with the broadcast and theatrical industries to drive tune-in programming and theatrical releases through frequency-based plans, content integrations, and talent endorsements, among other marketing vehicles.

As media platforms diversify, brands continue to cultivate radio partnerships, with the goal of deepening the conversations among consumers. Take HBO Max. WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer platform, which features a wide array of programming from its HBO, Warner Bros., DC, and Cartoon Network properties, developed HBO Max Podcast Program in 2019 featuring companion podcasts for hit HBO series such as Chernobyl and Lovecraft Country.

The podcast program recently expanded to include scripted audio originals, brand podcasts, and look-back podcasts.

“Audio is a way to reach consumers in a different location; no one is driving their car while watching HBO Max,” Josh Walker, chief strategy officer at HBO Max, said during the Audacy webinar. “Audio opens up the opportunity to connect beyond the living room and it is really important to us and our talent as it allows them to create a deeper connection outside of the traditional video format and makes the bond tighter.” And it works, with 85 percent of HBO Max listeners saying they feel more connected to the shows they watch due to the podcast.

Kendra Clune, associate media director at Kroger, the national chain of grocery stores, refers to radio as the brand’s workhorse. Like most marketers, Kroger uses a 360-degree approach for its media and marketing efforts. “Broadcast radio in particular is used to build efficient reach,” Clune says. “It’s also a media channel that keeps the brand top-of-mind to build the mental availability for our customers.”

Kroger is on the air in its various markets 52 weeks a year, connecting locally with its key audiences. The company deploys a laser-like focus on ensuring its marketing mix modeling data and audio – inclusive of radio, streaming, and podcasts – delivers strong ROI, with double-digit growth year-over-year. “If you are looking for efficient reach with local impact,” Clune says, “radio is your answer because for Kroger it delivers one of the strongest ROIs.”

Andy Ehlen, senior media planner/buyer at Grady Britton, amplified the sentiment regarding the impact that audio provides to both local and national media plans. “Radio is truly mass media,” he says. “It’s one of the few forms of media that is versatile, free and open to everyone, making it so easy to reach everyone while targeting niche and diverse groups of consumer audiences.”

From broad reach to content alignment to promotions and events, Ehlen says there are myriad ways to slice and dice an audio plan (depending on budgets, target audiences, and the brand objectives).

Maureen Carlson, chief programs and marketing officer at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, discussed the relationship that nonprofits have with radio broadcasting. “Radio in particular has an unbelievable social-responsibility attitude, one that is all about giving back,” she says. “It is one of our most effective fundraising vehicles, responsible for raising more than $700 million dollars over the last couple decades.”

Asked what sets radio apart, Carlson says it’s the ability for local storytelling. “When radio station talent share a passionate story about how the fundraising effects a local child, in a local community at a local hospital, magic happens,” she says. “These stories work better in radio than they do in any other media.” Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals deploys a three-pronged approach to its radio strategy: embedded spending within the brand marketing mix, annual radiothons, and partnerships with brands in which the nonprofit tells a story and raises funds simultaneously. From the nonprofit’s perspective, a beautiful story combined with a powerful delivery by a beloved radio talent leads listeners to take action.

Boosting ROI for Other Media Channels
Radio has been dialing up new opportunities for DTC brands. According to eMarketer, digital DTC sales are expected to grow another 15.9 percent in 2021, reaching $175 billion by 2023. That’s on top of the pandemic-fueled 45.5 percent growth for direct-to-consumer brands from 2019 to 2020.

Marc Osgood, owner of direct response advertising and marketing firm Direct Response Professional, says that radio should be considered when looking for the next acquisition channel. “Ad channel synergy is real,” he says. “The ad dollars you spend in radio not only drive their own ROI but can also help elevate other media, including television, print, and online, and the reverse is also true.”

Osgood says it’s easy to test marketing messages with radio, which provides brands and organizations with efficient cost-of-entry from both a creative and media standpoint. “Radio is at its best when your advertising speaks to the customer’s inner voice that visuals could distract and when used properly,” he adds. “It can really be a powerful platform.”

Full-service omnichannel agencies that are putting audio at the center of their client efforts are achieving results. Havas Edge, for instance, is a data-centric shop that provides brands with the ability to test, optimize, and scale their audio advertising campaigns.

“We are in an exciting time for audio, and measurement is different for every platform,” says Christina Wong, group media director at Havas Edge. “With streaming and podcasts, we can measure through pixels and broadcast. What we have found across the board, regardless of channel, is audio’s ability to drive lift across KPIs, and when you combine audio with other channels it’s an even greater lift in web traffic and conversions.”

For marketers who have yet to consider audio’s appeal, “don’t get overwhelmed with audio across all of its channels,” Wong adds. “You have to start with the trusted source, ask questions, don’t be afraid of it. The listeners are loyal, and when you tap into that loyalty it will be a long-term play that achieves both short- and long-term results for the brand.”

Marketers from both the client and agency sides agree that audio, and more specifically radio, when distributed across multiple platforms, brings ample benefits to brands and organizations: efficient reach, storytelling in its purest form, social responsibility, and immersive experiences that drive results.

The advice from brand to brand for effectively using audio is resoundingly clear: If a marketer is not using audio, jump in because it is a tremendous opportunity for increased engagement and growth. Audio is where the consumer wants to be. Sonic identities are key, and radio is fueling the entire audio ecosystem.

This article was originally published to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Knowledge Center.

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Using Omni-Shopper Insights to Create More Effective Ads

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Contributor: Sarena Gerard, Senior Research Associate, GfK

Combining online and in-store shopping is a highly personal, consumer-driven experience that’s here to stay — one that predates COVID-19 but that has picked up major momentum over the last 18 months.

For many consumers, pivoting from in-store to online shopping was one survival tactic among many adopted to cope with pandemic lockdowns —and as the omnichannel trend continues to rise, many advertisers are working hard to get in front of consumers in both online and in-store environments. This is especially true in categories that have experienced strong omnichannel growth over the last year – among them clothing & fashion, household cleaning products, and packaged foods and beverages.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for advertisers to refresh tactics—finding what works and what doesn’t—as they try to win over American consumers who now opt quite naturally for a hybrid in-store/online shopping strategy.

The chart below from GfK’s FutureBuy® 2021 study looks at shopping methods across 16 categories, ranging from tech to personal and household products. Our new data shows that 57% of American Hispanics shopped exclusively in-store over the last year – the highest of any racial or ethnic group. But scores were also remarkably high for Caucasian (54%) and Black/African American (48%) shoppers, as well, considering that in-store buying was highly discouraged for much of the year. On the flip side, over half (53%) of Asian consumers opted for an omnichannel approach, with 48% of Black/African American also taking this option.  

Chart I. % of Shoppers reporting shopping “exclusively in-store,” “exclusively online” and “both online & offline” across all 16 categories

Among those who shopped in-store only, Black/African American consumers were more likely to cite the ability to see and feel products before buying (42%) as a key reason for their preference, while Hispanic in-store shoppers are more likely to say that they like the quickness of brick-and-mortar buying (38%).

On the other hand, Asian consumers found that exclusive online shopping was easier (53%), there was better selection (40%), shopping was faster (31%) and returns were hassle-free (19%). Not surprisingly, in a pandemic year, all these reasons for preferring online buying experienced gains of 7 percentage points or more during 2020.

Among online factors, free delivery was a prominent reason to shop online for all ethnic groups, especially Caucasian (43%) and Black/African American (35%) consumers.

As consumers made decisions about where to shop, their influences surely played a role. According to the chart below sourced from GfK’s FutureBuy® 2021 study, traditional media influences like online advertising, were up among all groups—especially Hispanic shoppers. Hispanic consumers also show an uptick in receptiveness for print advertising. Though traditional media influences were least effective with Asian consumers over the last year, their largest gains in influence were made in online environments like price comparison/discount websites (up 14 percentage points since 2020).

Chart II. Traditional Media Influences by Ethnicity Since 2020

White Black Asian Hispanic
TV Advertising Down 1% Down 6% Down 12% Down 5%
Print Advertising Down 3% Down 1% Down 7% Up 5%
Online Advertising Up 1% Up 1% Down 26% Up 4%

As increased media consumption came to the forefront of Americans pandemic experience at home, the trend continues with radio listening at its highest point in the last 16 months, according to a recent Inside Radio article citing Nielsen’s latest “Audio Today” report.

As Americans return to commuting this fall, the article also cites Nielson’s continuously measured diary markets (CDM), which report an increase for in-car listening in May of 2021 (44%), up 6 percentage points since May of last year. With the uptick for in-car listening, advertisers have an opportunity to create more exposure via radio for omnichannel offerings for brands.

GfK’s FutureBuy research shows diverse shopping strategies and preferences can be essential information for advertisers targeting different types of buyers. Armed with this information, they can make smarter choices with their ad dollars, and reap the rewards in successful, high-ROI campaigns.

Footnote: GfK FutureBuy® 2021 research was conducted in the US from February 6th to May 13th, 2021, among over 2,000 consumers ages 15 to 65. Globally, the study is fielded in 28 countries around the world, based on interviews with over 50,000 shoppers.

GfK. Growth from Knowledge.

For more than 85 years, customers worldwide have trusted GfK to support them in business-critical decision-making processes around consumers, markets, brands, and media. With our trusted data and insights, combined with advanced artificial intelligence, we have revolutionized access to real-time, actionable recommendations that increase the marketing, sales, and organizational effectiveness of our customers and partners. This is how we promise and deliver — Growth from Knowledge.

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Targeting the Next Big Consumer – Teens

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

An online search for Gen Z will deliver results in the billions regarding various topics and industries. If you are wondering why, it is because they are about to become the largest and most important consumer target. They may also be the most complex.

Teens (12-19-year-olds) fall within the Generation Z demo. This generation is the most diverse, technologically savvy and socially aware compared to any other generations. They are also employed.

According to an August report from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for teenagers has been low for a third straight month – at 9.6%. The last time the rate was lower than that was November 1953. Teens are working consumers advertisers need to reach.

Teens spend close to $2,200 annually, according to the most recent Piper Sandler survey release. Food is where they spend the most of their money – grabbing 23% of the dollars.

When targeting teens, it’s important to not place them all in the same bucket. Seventy-eight percent of 12-19-year-olds do not like stereotypes and believe that “everyone is their own person.” It is an important consideration when targeting this consumer segment and recognizing what matters to them will help brand consideration.

Thirty-seven percent of teens prefer to buy natural products because they are concerned about the environment and 44% are willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally friendly. Like their older cohorts, over a third of them believe that brands they purchase should support social causes, according to the 2020 TeenMark study from MRI-Simmons.

Despite many misperceptions about teens, the greatest misperception is that radio doesn’t play a role in their lives. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Radio reaches 17.8 million teens every week (71%), according to the Nielsen’s RADAR.

The 2020 TeenMark study also disputes many other teen myths as it pertains to AM/FM radio. Forty percent attribute broadcast radio as how they find out about new music. Broadcast radio also connects with them emotionally.

Of the teens included with the MRI-Simmons study, AM/FM radio:

  • Relaxes them (31%)
  • Puts them in a good mood (36%)
  • Is pure entertainment (27%)
  • Puts them in a good mood (26%)
  • Keeps them informed/up to date (24%)
  • Is a good escape (21%)

As the next generation enters the workforce full time and their buying power increases, advertisers will need to adjust their messaging so that it connects emotionally with this consumer group. Since the brands they consider and purchase will need to be “socially aware” and connect to them emotionally, the media they use will have great influence. Teens tune into broadcast radio now and it already provides them with emotional benefits. Including AM/FM radio now in media plans that influence this generation will no doubt deliver benefits to brands in the futures.

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People are Tuned In and On the Go

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

People are resilient. It is an awesome wonder of human nature. There’s no doubt that everyone has experienced challenges, but looking around, you see that people have returned to doing what they did pre-pandemic. They are tuned into radio and ready to go.

Nielsen’s online survey, which has been monitoring consumer behavioral trends since the pandemic’s onset, highlights how consumers across the country aren’t just ready – they are on the go. The results of their June survey found that 90% of adults believe that life is becoming more normal. Their sentiment is improving as businesses are opening and life is appearing more normal.

Radio listeners are back on the go. They are shopping for groceries in store, driving around, ordering takeout, shopping in store and dining out – more so than the total surveyed. While people are spending more time in car, heavy radio listeners are more likely to spend one hour plus than the average in their cars.

What are they doing in their car? Listening to radio, of course. Nearly 90% of those surveyed say the radio is always/sometimes on during the drive to school. Yes, cars and people are on the go and radio is there keeping them company, entertaining and informing them.

People aren’t just tuning in while in car – they are tuning in everywhere. Broadcast radio listening levels are now 97% of March 2020 listening levels (pre-COVID-19). While we know that media habits have changed, people have also rediscovered radio. Since the onset of the pandemic, 56% of adults 21+ started to listen to radio, according to the July COVID-19 study from MRI-Simmons. Of these adults, 74% consider broadcast radio very trustworthy.

Like people, radio is resilient. It continues to play a role in the lives of consumers – before, during and after (dare we use that word) a pandemic. People tune in to radio and that’s why it has the largest share of ear compared to other ad-supported audio options – 76% among adults 18+, according to Edison Research.

It doesn’t matter where people are, where they are going or what they are doing, radio is there. People are on the go and radio is with them and along for the ride.

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Meet the New Retail Shopper

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

We know that consumer shopping behavior changed dramatically in 2020 – due to both restrictions and personal preferences. However, live events are on, places are open, and consumers are ready for it all.

The National Retail Federation revised their 2021 annual forecast and now projects that retail sales will total anywhere from $4.44 to $4.56 trillion this year. Yes, consumers are ready to shop, but where they shop, why they shop and what they buy will look different in 2021.

Nearly one-fifth of Americans are excited about going back to shopping in-store, yet despite recent store openings, over half of them are still concerned about COVID-19 when going to retail locations. According to Provoke Insights, a full service brand strategy and market research firm, 44% of Americans still prefer to make their purchases online. Meet the new retail shopper.

Based on surveys fielded in summer 2020 and across winter/spring 2021, Americans enjoy the convenience and ease of shopping online. Seventy-eight percent feel that the internet takes the hassle out of shopping.

All consumer product categories experienced dips and spikes in consumer purchases. As households across the country found themselves working from home or schooled virtually, furniture and home office supplies peaked at 25% and 29%, respectively. Based on the survey results, these two areas will see decreases in the next six months. However, there will continue to be upticks in personal care and grocery purchases.

Whether a consumer prefers to shop online or in person, there are both differences and similarities in what they have purchased the past three months. Sixty-seven percent of those who prefer to shop in person shopped for personal care, as opposed to 61% who prefer to shop online. Sixty-two percent who prefer to shop in person, shopped for packaged food, as opposed to 56% who prefer to shop online. Yet when it comes to clothing, vitamins and footwear, online and in-store shoppers are similar.

Online shoppers are younger, are more likely to work full time and have a higher household income than those who prefer to shop in-store. They also describe themselves as open-minded, intelligent and efficient.

While habits and purchases vary among online and in-store shoppers, general consumer trends are quite clear on what matters most to them in selecting the brands they purchase. Quality ranks first followed by price. Trust, as noted before, is also important. Consumers buy brands they trust.

Advertisers interested in reaching the new retail shopper would be well-served by including radio as part of their campaign’s plan. There are similar characteristics between the new retail shopper survey results and radio listeners as it pertains to quality and price. Seventy-one percent of radio listeners buy based on quality and not price and 76% of radio listeners also believe that price is more important, according to MRI-Simmons April 2021 COVID-19 Study.

The behaviors of consumers have evolved and will most probably continue. Advertisers who sell consumer product goods, clothing and other items should promote the quality of the goods they sell in order to drive and increase shopper loyalty. As a medium that drives engagement in a trusted environment, radio can make registers ring – both in-store and online.

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In Your Ears – The 30th AnniversaryRadio Mercury Awards

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Author: Madison Wright, Associate Producer, Radio Mercury Awards

For the past 30 years, radio broadcasters, agencies and advertisers have entered their creative work into the Radio Mercury Awards. Produced by the Radio Advertising Bureau, it is the only awards competition that exclusively honors creativity in radio and audio since its creation in 1992. Around 20,000 commercials have competed for close to $3.5 million in prizes.

When reflecting upon the Radio Mercury Awards, especially during this special anniversary, two things come to mind – the rich heritage of the awards show and how they continue to matter to the creative community as the medium continues to evolve.

Since their inception, the Radio Mercury Awards continue to seek the best of the best in radio – a medium creatives continue to declare the hardest to execute well. From the first Best of Show winner in 1992, Motel 6’s “Singing Phone Number,” courtesy of The Richards Group, to the most recent winners like 2020’s “Radio Recliner,” by the Luckie agency, these advertising commercials not only made their mark first at the Radio Mercury Awards, but they have also become a part of popular culture. Many have gone on to be recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, The One Club and the Clio Awards after being recognized at the Radio Mercury Awards. Our award winners have gone on to do amazing things, including rising from junior writers to chief creative officers at agencies across the U.S. They continue to feel an important connection to the Radio Mercury Awards, and they think fondly of their first Radio Mercury Awards experience and what it means to be a finalist and winner.

“The show has always meant a lot to me; it was something I entered as a student, something I became a finalist in as a young writer and finally I was able to do some winning work,” said Mitch Bennett, chief creative officer of Luckie, who is a multiple Radio Mercury Awards winner. “It’s such a special show.”

Above all, the Radio Mercury Awards serve as a place for radio and advertising leaders from across the U.S. to celebrate radio creative. Whether it’s a luncheon, an evening cocktail event, or even a virtual show in 2020, the creative work honored at the event sets the bar for creative excellence as well as motivates and inspires the next generation of creatives. The future is also bright for the Radio Mercury Awards, as radio and audio’s footprint continues to innovate across media platforms, captivating listeners and creating unique opportunities for brands. 

According to a March 2021 Audacy report quoted in RAB’s most recent Matter of Fact article, “audio — comprising over-the-air, streaming-over-the-air and podcasts — is more immersive than other media” and with that comes more opportunities for companies to dip their toes into the audio pool. The definitions of audio and radio have changed drastically from the past five years, let alone the past three decades – from the way we tune into our favorite shows, how we connect with our favorite local stations, from where we can tune into and how the audio medium as a whole infused itself into social media platforms like Clubhouse and Facebook. Especially after the past year, the conversations being fostered over the airwaves have changed, and that also affected how businesses promote themselves to their local communities. 

The Radio Mercury Awards evolve each year and reflect the current and future audio landscape. This year, along with favorite categories like Creative Spot for a Cause and Integrated Brand Campaign, new categories emerged, like Purpose-Driven Spot or Campaign. This new category will showcase the topical radio work that was done during the pandemic and how advertisers and companies used radio to promote their actions and efforts towards the public good and demonstrated how they addressed social, environmental or public health/safety issues. Another exciting change beginning this year is that all categories are open to all languages for work that was broadcast, aired digitally, released or transmitted initially and primarily in the U.S. and its territories.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the sentiment we feel when hearing some of our favorite radio commercials from years past and the anticipation of who will become a finalist in 2021. Take a few moments, and may we suggest you delve into the Radio Mercury Awards Audio Library, press play, close your eyes and remember the feeling you had when you first listened to Wieden+Kennedy’s work for Old Spice, Fitzco’s “Share a Coke” campaign for The Coca-Cola Company, DDB’s “Real Men of Genius” for Anheuser-Busch, Motel 6’s “We’ll Leave the Light on for You” commercials by The Richards Group or the Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the Room” spots spanning across different agencies.

In short, the Radio Mercury Awards’ legacy and their future shine bright – as long as creatives continue to produce great audio work. The Radio Mercury Awards will be there to award and honor them. If you’ve created a spot you’re proud of lately or have heard a great one – we encourage you to enter it in the competition or to urge your colleague to do so today!  

The Radio Mercury Awards, the only competition exclusively devoted to radio and audio, was established in 1992 to encourage and reward the development of effective and creative radio commercials. The annual Radio Mercury Awards competition draws entries from advertising agencies, production houses, radio stations and educational institutions across the country. The Radio Creative Fund (RCF), a nonprofit corporation funded by the radio industry, governs the Radio Mercury Awards. The Radio Advertising Bureau produces the Radio Mercury Awards.

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You Can Count on Radio for Banking

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Author: Annette Malave, SVP/Insights, RAB

There have been numerous articles, studies and surveys on shift in consumer shopping preferences and behavior. While percentages for each survey may have varied, there was one consistent finding – Americans have increased their use of online transactions. The implication of this behavioral shift is not just limited to retail but also to banking – 27% of consumers agree that banks will be more flexible over the next two years.

The use of cash has been declining, as only one-third of Americans still pay with cash. According to EY’s Future Consumer Index, 20% of respondent expect to be using contactless payments more and less cash over the next few years.

Consumers also place the same expectations they have of businesses supporting local communities to the banks they engage with. Over half of the respondents to EY’s index indicated that their purchase decisions were determined by “banks supporting the community, being transparent and ensuring they are doing good for society.” This is an important aspect to consumers, because only 17% stated that they trust the activities of financial institutions during times of crisis.

Why does this matter? Consumers are planning for the future, and financial institutions will play an important role in helping them accomplish this. Twenty-five percent of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay a premium for products that promote their well-being.

Clearly, consumer views on banks and financial institutions are now about personalization. An industry once viewed as stoic and impersonal now works hard to understand and connect with consumers. What better medium is there to use to create that human connection than with radio?

Radio connects and engages like no other medium. Listeners have a personal connection with the radio stations and the personalities on those stations, and people trust radio and the ads that run on radio stations. When it comes to reach, radio reaches 83% of adults who have a savings or checking account, personally or jointly. Eighty-five percent use any type of banking service offered – from savings to overdraft protection.

Radio listeners are still financially sound, based on MRI-Simmons 2021 April COVID-19 study. Eighty percent of adult radio listeners state that they are in about the same or better financial state compared to a year ago.

When trying to reach radio listeners who may be considering changing banks, it is important to know what matters to them. Like the behavioral shift with shopping, radio listeners prefer to bank online. Based on the April study, 44% of radio listeners hate having to go to their bank branch or savings institution. Radio listeners prefer to do it all online. Seventy-five percent would be happy to use the internet to carry out their daily banking transactions.

Radio listeners are also financially aware. They keep track of their financial accounts, as 86% state that they broadly know how much is in their bank account at any given time. Sixty-eight percent disagree that they only save for a specific purpose.

So, what does matter to radio listeners when choosing a bank? The top items that matter are about service, location and trust. Sixty-six percent of radio listeners believe that customer service is very important when they select a banking institution, and 44% state location. When it comes to trust, 35% believe in the company’s reputation, and 48% expect the company to be financially stable. Personal recommendations, rewards programs and years in the business do not rank high. These insights should be considered and incorporated into any messaging toward the radio-listening audience.

The events of the past year and a half have taught us all a few things and underscored others.

  • The role that trust plays in any relationship, personal, or business, matters a lot.
  • Businesses of all types must adjust to the new habits and expectations of the consumers who patronize their businesses.
  • The role that media, and specifically radio, plays in creating a personal connection among businesses and the consumers who patronize those businesses matter.

Like you have heard and read before, radio works for businesses – from local retailers to large financial institutions. Including radio in any media campaign is a sound investment and will deliver results you can bank on.

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