As marketers, we are always in danger of relying too much on our personal preferences as opposed to our professional knowledge. Our instincts may tell us that “no one” reads the newspaper or “everybody” is online all the time, but is that true of your audience or just of you? Article after article drills this belief further into our brains. And while it may be true of some traditional media that overall consumption is down, some at least are far from dead. Let’s look at how one juggernaut—radio—might still be more relevant than you think.

Rarely do we (especially in an agency) find ourselves precisely in the center of the target audience for the brands we work on. But ironically, our strategy recommendations might be adversely affected when we are. Making assumptions based on our own personal preferences is simply too easy; most marketers don’t even realize they’re doing it. From choosing a color palette for your brand to defining your message to selecting the right platforms for that message, each person on the team will have an opinion based more or less on data than existing prejudices and expectations.

For example, more often than not the suggestion of adding radio to the marketing mix is met with at least some hesitation or skepticism: “But I don’t listen to the radio.” Yet a 2017 metrics report from Nielsen (the ratings gurus themselves) has shown that radio remains one of the top vehicles to reach consumers, no matter the platform. 93% of Americans tune into radio each week. And while many of that 93% of listeners also watch television or engage with smartphone apps, radio reaches millions more. Interestingly too, if you tally up up the number of minutes per week consumers spend consuming broadcast radio (AM/FM) versus streaming audio (e.g. Pandora), broadcast radio outpaces streaming by 14:1.

93% of Americans tune into radio each week

Another common reaction to radio is that it only works for awareness and doesn’t drive action; and even if it did, you wouldn’t be able to measure it. However, a study by the Radio Advertising Bureau showed that radio can even drive search traffic – a 29% increase across 8 brands studied. By delving deeply into search analytics and aligning it with specific days and dayparts during which radio was running, then weighting it with frequency of the campaign, they were able to discern a lift in the volume of searches for each brand.

As unexpected as these statistics may be to some, they certainly demonstrate the danger of judging our audience by our own media habits. Conversely though, we should also be cautious of being too reliant on generalized data to make decisions—even if radio is still relevant overall, the RAB study also showed that some industries see better direct results than others. Certain creative, too, is more likely to drive customers to your site, such as making an offer or personalizing and localizing your message.

While traditional may not yield the same type of easy-to-obtain, tangible, measurable results that digital does, at least we know that people are listening.

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