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Radio vs. Digital
So today we had a very heated discussion in the office about radio advertising. I think I mentioned in a previous episode that one of our clients was doing radio and TV advertising and when we took them on as a digital marketing client, at some point recently they asked us to take on their TV and radio buying as well.
Now, we don’t know anything about radio. We don’t know anything about TV. As a matter of fact, most of the people in this office don’t listen to broadcast radio and they don’t watch broadcast TV or even cable TV. A lot of us have cut the cord and we’re Netflix fans. So it’s really a little bit awkward for us because at the core we believe in digital and we live our lives that way. So we don’t know all that much about TV and radio. And because of that, we brought in a Senior Media Buyer and we’ve been getting some reports about the radio advertising results and the TV advertising results for this client.
And since we don’t know anything about the industry, we’ve poured over them and we’ve really dived pretty deep into the numbers. And what I found was that we’re lacking any kind of data that would indicate the size of the audience for radio. For TV we have that information…kind of. And we also don’t know the effectiveness at all for either radio or TV.
Knowing Your Audience in Radio Advertising…You Don’t
Now what was just amazing to me was first I found out today that we’re actually advertising for an HVAC client on a talk-only radio station. And I asked the Media Buyer, who is the typical person that listens to talk radio? And especially since he was telling me that he thinks the ratings are higher during the day, not during the commute. And his response was men that are 50 years and older. Now this is an HVAC client. This is a client who goes into homes during the day and works on HVAC systems, replaces them or maintains them. I’m not so sure that men that are 50 years and older are the target audience. So that right there was a red flag.
Next I asked for ratings information or just how big the audience was. And what he relayed to me was that the answer is we don’t know. And it’s because the radio stations themselves don’t know. And I was baffled. I couldn’t believe that not only could we not get performance data as far as how effective these radio ads were, but the radio stations themselves couldn’t even tell us what the reach was.
Well, it turns out that in order to figure out what their reach is, they have to buy that data from a third party, in particular, Nielsen. So you’ve probably heard of Nielsen Ratings. Well that’s proprietary data that Nielsen themselves hold; it’s their intellectual property not government or open data. And in order to use that data, you have to have a subscription from them.
Most of the radio stations around here in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach market have decided strategically to not pay that fee, which apparently is quite hefty. The result is they have absolutely no way of communicating to us how many people could even possibly receive the message. Never mind its effectiveness. They don’t even know how far it could go. It again, it just baffled me. It’s crazy. I just don’t understand it and it really makes me just doubt even more the effectiveness of radio and TV.
TV Advertising is Slightly Less Inconclusive
I haven’t really gotten into detail about the TV aspect. It’s not quite as bad, but you know as digital marketers, as Internet people, we’re raised to have data at the forefront and everything that we do is data driven. And to go into a traditional media field like radio and have absolutely no data at our fingertips at all it is just crazy. It’s like being in a foreign land. So we’re going to be digging a lot more into this. There’s gotta be some answers somewhere, but on the surface it just seems like it’s a racket. It’s really pretty crazy. So I’m going to keep you attuned to that and let you know what we learn. But on the surface we have no idea if it’s effective or not. And it’s really, really making us question it.