Wave Goodbye To Traditional Radio Spots And Say Hello To Custom Content

We’ve all been there. You’re riding along in the car jamming to one of the overly played songs (that happens to be a guilty pleasure of yours) only to be slapped in the face with a dreaded series of commercials to follow. You may listen to the first one with fingers crossed in hopes that it was just a “one and done” scenario and that the music will be back up and running following the 30-second spot, but no. It continues on.

So naturally you scan to the next channel. What do you hear? One of those classic local jingles that you could repeat verbatim in the same annoying cadence that they have been broadcasting for the past 10 years? That’s what I figured. You continue to scan through the channels and happen to be faced with commercial break after commercial break until you circle back to your original station which is still on commercial break (yes, it’s only been 60 seconds of scanning but you still had high hopes.) Sigh. You get out your aux cord or sync up your iPod playlist or Pandora app to your Bluetooth-connect feature in an effort to escape every driver’s worst nightmare … commercial breaks.



It seems as though no matter your age, no one can honestly say that they tune in to the radio for the commercials, and this is especially true for Millennials. A research study published in November 2014 and conducted by CRN International, a radio marketing and promotions company based in Connecticut, found that of the 92% of Millennials who listen to radio on a daily basis (the same percentage who claim to use the internet daily) approximately 89% agreed with the statement, “I pay little attention to radio spot commercials.”

CRN reports that “radio spot commercials are not a highly effective strategy and, as currently delivered by most broadcasters, are at a listening disadvantage regardless of how informative, clever and witty they may be.” You may be thinking to yourself, but surely radio commercials aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so there must be a way around this?

CRN dug into the problem and tested Millennials’ perception of a variety of radio formats such as traditional spot commercials, custom content, DJ endorsements, real-people testimonials, live station appearances, and contests or sweepstakes. While the great majority responded negatively to questions surrounding traditional spot commercials, custom content actually proved to be a promising option! 

CRN reports that custom content on the radio actually engages customers more effectively than spot ads. In addition, it “builds brand affinity and consumer relationships, triggers sales, cuts media costs, creates opportunities for meaningful multi-platform extensions and provides a measurable return on business objectives.” Nearly 75% of the respondents indicated that they enjoy learning new tips and tricks that pertain to their interests which can benefit them both personally and professionally, and would “remember and appreciate the company or brand that provided them with such information.” 

The bulk of their research points to a strong correlation between content that is personally helpful and interesting and the sponsoring brand’s likeability and message recall. In short, if you’re trying to engage Millennials via radio, ditch the traditional spot commercial approach and opt for providing something much less “ad-like” and inundated with brand messaging.

4 comments about "Wave Goodbye To Traditional Radio Spots And Say Hello To Custom Content".
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  1. Jack a. Silverman from Bolin Marketing, May 1, 2015 at 10:27 a.m.

    Sorry Brittany, nothing new here. Not sure how you do custom content on radio?  If you mean not shouting at folks to 'buy now" 'come on down this weekend" etc. that has been expoused by advertising pundits and by smart agency creative teams for years.  We didnt need a survey to tell us that. Sorry that Millennials have such short attention spans but maybe we do have to shout at them more, there is more to life than 120 characters and life is not free.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 1, 2015 at 11:54 a.m.

    A similar survey would  probably "find" that 97.6% of the respondents "never watch TV commercials" and 94.2% feel that ads on the Internet are "annoying interruptions". So what? It's a given that people respond in this manner to vaugly worded, highly generalized studies whose real function is to promote the sponsor's point of view--- or medium. Zoom in on actual ad campaigns where the respondent knows exactly what you are talking about, and you will get quite different results.

  3. Jim Alkon from CRN, May 1, 2015 at 4:22 p.m.

    If it helps to clarify some of the points from the commenters above about how to do custom content on the radio or the nature of the study itself, I invite you to visit CRN's Resources Page at where you can download the full White Paper on this topic as well as others.

  4. John Harpur from Yellow Submarine, May 1, 2015 at 4:59 p.m.

    Ed is absolutely correct regarding the usefullness of the CRN survey. But the gist of this article is none-the-less spot on. Radio and its advertisers need to develop strategies to change or overcome those 6 to 8 minute commercial pods of 10 - 14 commercials each. Radio advertising in this environment cannot be very effective.

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