I’ve written before about my view that no medium innately “deserves” any particular share of ad spend based on the amount of time people spend with it. Nor should the simple matter of audience size be the sole determinant that drives budget allocation.
Other variables such as the context of consumption (where and when the medium is accessed, the social setting, the user experiences and the inter-relationship with other media by day part etc.) all go to informing the allocation of media budgets and yielding a higher return on investment.
Then there’s the simple fact of how well a given sector does in building and retaining its share. This, of course, is the ultimate determinant of success. In the arena of media sales, its devil take the hindmost and anyone who can achieve a share that is apparently disproportionate to their relative position as a medium (or property) is free to do so -- all credit to them. The notion of proportionality has no place in this particular mix.
But even taking into such points into account, I still find it curious radio has -- for the most part -- become an over-looked medium for many brands relative to TV and even to much smaller (but perhaps newer and more shiny) media opportunities, such as social and mobile.
The point of course isn’t that radio -- or any of the others -- are “better” than the rest. Any medium can only be fully maximized for an advertiser when approached as part of a joined up media mix. But when you consider the near-ubiquity of radio in many consumers’ lives, it is surprising that the medium has to fight so hard for its share of the pie.
For example; with 79% of American adults using a car in any one day and 40% of AM/FM radio listening taking place in the car (where the medium far out-paces CDs, satellite and mp3s), there is clearly a significant opportunity to reach many audiences at key moments.
Add to this the fact that radio outstrips all other media combined in terms of reach in an average weekly morning among adults making purchases in a QSR between 12-12.30 p.m., and it’s not difficult to justify the medium’s reach on a campaign plan in that sector.
Similarly (and this is another example, as above, taken from USA TouchPoints data), in the hour before the early afternoon peak shopping time of 1:30 p.m., a full 34% of shoppers are listening to the radio for at least some of that hour -- significantly more than any other medium.
Does that mean that those other media don’t have a role to play in targeting shoppers with relevant messages in key moments of receptivity? Of course not. But there’s a communications continuum for any brand targeting a given consumer group, and while TV might be further from the point of purchase and mobile may be at the point of purchase, radio makes a pretty strong case as the medium that bridges the two.
These are just a few examples, but as I look at the data -- data that has much more to do with context of use and likely moments of receptivity than with simple measure of time spent or reach alone -- I can’t help wonder why more brands aren’t making better use of a medium that can get them to the right place at the right time.
Has the industry been seduced by things that are simply newer and more shiny? Or is the absence of video sufficient to justify a brand’s absence at key times in the day?