Radio Is Killin' It With Mobile

 While brand marketers and ad agencies are scrambling to figure out how to use mobile advertising, some of the best success stories can be found in the unlikeliest of places -- radio. Radio is often incorrectly thought of as an “old” form of media that doesn’t lead the charge in innovation.

The truth is radio has been incorporating mobile into its traditional advertising model for quite some time, leveraging this new medium to more effectively engage advertisers with listeners.

Subway, the quick service restaurant chain, wanted to drive traffic to its Atlanta locations and have consumers try their new Big Philly Cheesesteak. The company already had a hefty advertising mix in place, which they supplemented with local radio ads that asked audiences to join its mobile club for coupon promotions.

In the first two weeks of the campaign, the mobile club received more than 21,000 text-in responses and had 62% of their mobile coupons redeemed in stores. Plus, nearly half of those that responded (more than 10,000 unique users) opted in to receive future offers from the Subway mobile club.



It may seem like an easy feat for a larger, notable brand like Subway to garner results like this, but small brands and organizations have had success with the same radio and mobile advertising campaign combination.

For instance, Paako Ridge Golf Club in New Mexico, one of the top public courses in the country, was struggling with a perception issue -- many in its target audiences thought of it as exclusive and too high-end. Previously, the golf club had only advertised its course with full-page ads in the sports sections of local papers and travel magazines.

The prominent golf club decided to partner with three Cumulus Media Albuquerque stations: two news-talk formats and one sports format.  All were provided exclusive on air sponsorship of live golf coverage from the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The radio ads promoted Paako Ridge’s text club that allowed listeners to keep tabs on their favorite players in the tournament via text messages. After opting into the text club, each club member received leaderboard updates, which included a text ad tag that allowed for a direct hyperlink to call for tee times at Paako Ridge.

The golf club found this campaign to be so successful that it has run it for the past three years. Thus far, Paako Ridge has sent out nearly 95,000 text ad messages to listeners who have opted-in to the mobile club, identified more than 900 new unique golfers who have, furthermore, booked tee times spontaneously as a result of the radio and mobile campaigns.

Both of these examples may seem ingeniously simple, but it’s important to keep in mind that both were dependent on the campaign’s relevance to its targeted audience, its messaging, and the location of that audience.

Mobile has a draw for many brand marketers and advertisers because of its hyper-local capabilities; however, the reason these mobile campaigns worked so well is because they were facilitated by the original, local communication medium: radio.

A key takeaway -- and a distinct benefit of combining radio and mobile campaigns -- is the importance of tying the ad into relevant editorial content that listeners and mobile users want to receive. That compels users to seek out the messaging, while making the campaign versatile enough to be used across the traditional and digital channels, keeping it consistent. For example, in the case of Paako Ridge, listeners received regular updates on the golf tournaments as they were taking place along with a promotion for Paako Ridge Golf Club. The mobile campaign was a natural extension of the twice hourly on-air updates and ended with a hyperlink to make tee times at Paako Ridge.

Another lesson learned from using radio as a route to a mobile campaign -- the integral role hyper-local audience targeting plays in the success. Cumulus’ local radio stations have loyal, engaged local audiences that Subway and Paako Ridge were able to reach in a way that mobile advertising alone, without radio, couldn’t have accomplished.

The brand marketers and advertisers involved in these campaigns didn’t have to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to develop a hyper-local campaign that targeted a granularly specific audience, because the radio listeners did that for them by opting into the mobile component of the radio spots. 

These campaigns were not only effective, but also incredibly efficient and economical. They created a 360-degree audience program when integrated with other digital assets, like streaming and dynamic digital display ads, that linked directly back to the advertiser. Why aren’t more brand marketers and advertisers doing this?

In recent years, advertisers and media buyers have shied away from radio, because of the difficulty associated with buying hyper-local spots. There was very little transparency and accountability on the part of the radio stations and advertisers. However, that has changed with innovative technology solutions, which make buying radio spots by location and audience demographic much easier, and the tracking of those ad placements more transparent.

When you add the mobile component to radio campaigns, whether it’s messaging or display within a mobile site or app, it not only adds a layer of defined metrics but advances your ad and brand message from a monologue to an actively engaging dialogue with your target audience. 

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