Radio Unveils New Consumer Research: This Time, It's Personal, Relevant Too

The radio industry wants to make a deeper, more personal connection with Madison Avenue and it's using its connections with consumers to do it. The pitch is premised on new consumer research showing that consumers have a more personal and emotional connection to radio programming and advertising than they do to two other major media measured in the study: TV and newspapers.

The research, which is part of a series of studies being commissioned by the radio industry and overseen by the Radio Advertising Bureau, could be just the thing to resonate with media planners who are looking for new insights on how consumers relate to media beyond simple reach and frequency. As such, the new data from the Radio Advertising Effectiveness Lab (RAEL) touches on the kind of consumer context planning research media shops are conducting themselves.

The research, which was conducted by pollster Wirthlin Worldwide, was implemented in two waves that looked at radio and newspapers and radio and TV. Both pieces of research found radio is more of a one-on-one experience and that listeners consider it to be a more emotional experience than other media, and therefore requires special consideration from agencies in terms of both planning media and placing creative.

In terms of media planning implications, the study suggests agencies would do well to consider the impact radio programming formats, dayparts, environment and specific program content have on the listener's disposition toward advertising. In terms of advertising content, the study indicates that brands be positioned discretely toward specific sub-sets of radio listeners, and that radio ads be pre-tested more often to determine how their messages connect with specific types of radio listeners.

"Maybe the biggest difference between television and radio is that when [consumers] thing of television, they say it tunes them into the world. When they think of radio, it tunes them into their world," said Jim Peacock, a consultant organizing the effort for RAEL.

Peacock said this round of research would be followed by more quantitative research focusing on radio advertising effectiveness, including a study being fielded now by Pretesting Co., which will be released in the next month that shows the impact of ads running in different combinations of radio, TV and newspapers. Tat research will be followed by yet another study conducted by Millward Brown and Information Resources Inc. that will correlate radio advertising with actual product sales effects.

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