Why Marketers Need To Rethink Radio Audiences Now

When Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to promote ticket giveaways for its “Caught Cold” concert series last summer -- which included acts such as Brad Paisley, CMF and Jason Aldean -- it reached out to listeners at a prominent country music station in Boston, owned by a privately held Massachusetts media company that owns 23 AM and FM radio stations in in Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The promotion went far beyond radio spots. Two weeks prior to each concert, on-air announcements urged listeners to register at the CaughtCold Web site, where they could play a game that let them shoot down balloons attached to the latest array of Dunkin’s ice cold summer drinks. That entered them in a contest to win tickets to one of the five concerts. At the concert, the retailer gave away samples of its Caught Cold product line and ticket winners were photographed in front of an on-stage backdrop, which they could locate and download from an online photo album on the Web site or the station’s event page.  Pre-roll promotional video, announcements via social media and call-to-action banner ads helped with the promotion.



The result: 2,322 people played the online game to win tickets, with the Caught Cold Landing and Photo Album pages receiving some 4,483 unique page views. The nation’s largest coffee and baked good retailer clearly gets how to structure a multichannel promo campaign that engages its audience and enhances brand awareness. It also grasps the role that radio audiences can play in those promotions.

A loyal bunch

That’s something many other companies could learn from. Too many brands seem to be stuck in last-century thinking when it comes to radio, with the view that adding it to the marketing mix means simply running radio spots. Loyal radio station listeners are a valuable consumer asset, and too often marketers miss out on their full potential by keeping promotions in a silo marked “radio.”

Each week, radio reaches 93.7% of 18- to-49-year-olds, the most sought-after consumer audience. And it reaches 94% of adults in the $75K+ household income bracket -- with daily tune-in times averaging 2 1/2 hours. Listeners also feel an emotional connection with their preferred stations and tend to be extremely loyal. 

And because ads can run frequently and listeners tend to stay tuned for long periods of time, a brand that is big in radio can create disproportionately large mindshare among listeners. Research has also shown that radio has a "multiplier effect" on other media, increasing recall of TV, newspaper, and Internet ads.

Out and about

But -- surprise -- valuable radio audiences aren’t just sitting glued to their radios. They move between media -- posting on Facebook or Twitter, checking email, uploading photos to Instagram or Pinterest, and using their cell phones. Brands that want to reach and engage them need to be all of these places.

That’s what Boston bakery and café Au Bon Pain and a local soft rock station did in April 2012. To create awareness for the chain’s new sandwich line, it launched the Superior Sandwich Showdown, in which station DJs chose a favorite sandwich and asked listeners to vote for the choice they preferred. 

A dedicated site housed DJ videos, a sandwich menu, a contest for a workplace catered lunch and links to social media. Helping boost traffic were links on the station’s home and contest pages and an “eblast“ to over 45,000 station members. DJs talked up the promotion on their Facebook pages and the station ran Au Bon Pain ads and pre-roll video spots on its live stream.  Street team members also passed out voting info in target areas and at point-of-sale; customers got flyers with QR Codes linking them to the voting site.

Traffic for the campaign was healthy -- Au Bon Pain received 21,537 pre-roll video impressions and 63 click-throughs to the site. In addition to generating brand awareness, the campaign also affected the bottom line: Au Bon’s Boston outlets saw stronger sandwich sales off their new menu than at the rest of the chain’s top 10 markets. 

Au Bon Pain and Dunkin‘ Donuts did a great job of thinking about radio fans in a 360-degree fashion that incorporates streaming media, digital media and social media into the mix. Other brands should sit up and take notice.


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