Radio and Internet Create Effective Media Mix

As marketers in today’s highly digital and emerging media front, we often find it easy to overlook older media. Let’s face it, we have HD this and HD that, streaming this and streaming that. Smartphones, tablets/iPads, laptops and more are taking over our daily lives. Essentially, there are countless ways marketers can reach their audience – anytime and virtually anywhere. As a result, there are many different mixes that can be effective.

Therefore, in my self-confessed “geekness” (see A Geek’s Journey Into Digital Marketing), I was a bit surprised to learn that traditional AM/FM radio (yes, I said radio) still offers some the of best reach and overall recall when combined with Internet advertising.

To me, this was jaw dropping.

I mean, really? Radio? Internet? Together? Aren’t they the Felix and Oscar of media? One is carried over archaic airwaves that have seemingly been around since the dawn of time and the other is broadband-infused with digital content of all sorts and consumable in almost any format!

So, I had to do a little investigating into this via Mr. Google, figuring that if anything the Internet itself would dispel this rumor of “radio” playing in its haughty digital domain. Essentially, I was expecting to find litany after litany that AM/FM radio is dying away and being replaced left, right and sideways by hipper and cooler things like online radio (Pandora) or satellite radio, the latter of which seems to be standard offering in every new car sold.

What I found though, was quite the opposite.

Yes, online radio offerings are growing. But, among the general population, they are not necessarily replacing the old AM/FM dial. As a matter of fact, according to the 2011 study by Edison Research and Arbitron entitled The Infinite Dial 2011, 93%  of us still use the traditional AM/FM radio versus 56% that use online radio.

Ranked by Media & Device “Reach”

Media Platform Usage                  Use/Own
Watching television                                       98%
Listening to local AM/FM radio                93%
Listening to online radio                              56%
Watching online video                                  54%
Using Facebook                                              51%
Watching YouTube                                        49%
Watching Video on Demand                      35%
Listening to audio podcasts                        25%
Listening to Pandora                                    24%
Watching video podcasts                            22%
Watching Hulu                                              20%
Using MySpace                                              17%
Listening to satellite radio                         12%

Of people who use online radio, 89% still listen to traditional AM/FM (I assume not at the same time). Plus, the percentage of passionate users of AM/FM radio is second only to TV. Further, daily time with TV, AM/FM Radio and Internet have been increasing, now averaging about 8 hours 11 minutes per day combined.

So, it is clear that radio is resilient and hanging in there with stations offering digital solutions such as mobile, social, streaming, podcasts and more. In which case, I pulled my attention to the Internet and radio combination. In doing so, I did come across a 2007 study from Harris Interactive. Given that radio still appears to be relevant today, the study still has validity. The study did indicate that the combination of Internet and Radio are highly effective showing that when radio and Internet campaigns are combined, reach of the two (at 83%) was almost the same as television.

However, the overall recall of ads with the combination of radio and Internet was remarkable. The unaided recall for a mix of one Internet and one radio exposure was four-and-a-half times higher than unaided recall for two Internet ads alone. A lot of this could be due to the fact that radio and Internet are typically community focused and solitary. Listeners perceive the radio as part of their larger, but local, community that is engaging and fun to listen to. The Internet is where they go for facts and keep in touch with their family and friends, so it is their personal community. As a result, a listener hears an ad on their favorite radio station, who they already have higher kinship towards, and then they go online to look up the facts and research (59% admitted to doing this). They later encounter the online ad either through search, behavioral tracking, or even re-targeting and they are then more likely to not only recall the ad, but also take action. So, believe it or not, this mix of the antiquated radio and the sleek/refined Internet, do seem complement each other.

As you can see, when thinking about media mixes of your campaign efforts, do not let yourself get all tied up into the latest and greatest offering out there. Mix offline with online elements and consider how the two coexist for your audience. Acknowledge the fact the people use online and offline media (in many cases at the same time) and not simply one or the other.

And, above all, realize that the Internet did not kill radio. But I am pretty darn sure that MTV killed the video star.

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