A radio broadcasting executive named David Field spoke out the other day about a radio renaissance. It happened on his quarterly financial earnings call, and it made some waves – inside and outside radio.
Now if you've ever spent any time with David, you know he is an unabashed supporter of radio – it is literally in his DNA. His dad, Joe Field, started Entercom decades ago. And today it is vying for the top spot in all of radio.
During his Q3 earnings report, David talked about how major advertisers – like Procter & Gamble – are rethinking their ad mixes. We discussed this trend in a guest post by Paul Jacobs in September – “How Radio Can Have Its Cake & Eat It, Too.”
In that post, Paul cited P&G's decision to redeploy its advertising resources after disappointing results with digital media. And he quoted Havas CEO Colin Kinsella:
“A lot of buyers want to get back into TV, radio, out-of-home and print because they feel like digital can get lost. The most accountable media turned into the least accountable media and the most filled with fraud.”
David Field cited Nielsen data that strongly suggests radio has key advantages in the marketplace. You can see that loud and clear in their new report, “The Nielsen Auto Marketing Report 2018.”
It's 32 pages long, full of great information for radio sales staffs, and loaded with data that tracks car buyers as they move through the process of making a decision about car brands, and what they ultimate purchase or lease.
The report confirms that marketers have a two-sided challenge. On the one hand, there are more media and advertising sources than ever before. Between traditional media, social, search, and other new media outlets, there is an attractive list to choose from.
Conversations with auto industry execs – both at the OEM or manufacturer and dealer levels – have increasingly become enamored with targeted media. We saw that loud in clear at our last DASH Conference in 2015 when Ford Direct's Dave DiMeo eschewed legacy media and embraced “accountable” ROI-producing digital sources.
“I don’t want to pay for ears. I want to pay for actions.”
That money quote sent shivers and sweats throughout the radio exec-filled room.
But as the Nielsen research clearly shows, consumers need to know about brands they're considering. Awareness – specifically, top-of-mind brand awareness – is key every step of the way. And it's traditional outlets – TV, radio, that lead the way.
Like a lot of marketers, the Nielsen report concludes that auto companies need to consider a strategic mix of both traditional (reach) media and digital (targeted) media in order to achieve sales and marketing.
At the same DASH Conference, Ford VP/Marketing (and Entercom board member), Mark, LaNeve, took a different tack than DiMeo. He argued that it is essential for a company like Ford to keep “one foot in today and one foot in tomorrow.”
And then LaNeve said this:
“Customer data, integration, and impact will be the new battleground to figure out new media mixes. Radio plays a big role in driving traffic for reinforcing brand awareness.”
That was three years ago, and yet very much on-point with what this new Nielsen report reveals. It also reminds precisely who is actually buying all those cars. Nielsen notes “the majority of new vehicles are purchased by consumers over 40 years of age.”
And while these car buyers represent 62% of the adult population in America, this same group makes up a whopping 75% of new car sales.
Yes, Millennials matter. As the Nielsen report notes, Gen Y is “coming of age,” and are the future of the auto industry. But they are also half as apt to make a new car purchase as these older consumers.
That said, radio is the only medium with strong, consistent, multi-generational reach. And that's part of what David Field is crowing about when he points to a “radio renaissance.”
Here's how Nielsen concludes their report by noting that for auto marketers to be effective: “This takes an understanding of how the different media channels should be leveraged along the path to purchase: employing mass reach media like radio and TV for brand building, and transitioning to more targeted and personalizable media including mobile, digital and direct mail to increase purchase consideration and dealership foot traffic.”
The bolding above is mine, because it's important to factor in radio's amazing power as a brand building medium when it comes to large purchases like cars. But to pigeon-hole radio as merely reach-effective shortchanges the power and value of the medium. Creative local sales teams should be working with car dealerships to cut deals that bring out radio's best marketing qualities.
- Get your big morning show talking about a new car, and you've created something powerful at a time when adult consumers are paying attention: when they're driving to work.
- Encourage a local dealership to allow your midday talent to drive a new car, SUV, or truck around for a couple of weeks. Or put together a promotion where the entire staff drives a different vehicle during the campaign period.
- Schedule a remote at a local dealership that's not the van, the card table, the banner, the intern, and the prize wheel – but a real reason for showing up. Maybe it's a digital dashboard demo or a chance for one of the jocks to show off your station app in an Apple CarPlay or Android Auto equipped car.
- Create a new car preview podcast, showcasing local car dealerships when their new models come to market.
Or maybe there are other engagement strategies and tactics you can think of that can build new car brand awareness, dealer traffic, and that all-important local connection.
And while I'm skywriting…
…wouldn't it be wonderful if radio broadcasters could begin providing more targeted ad solutions – above and beyond reach? Branded products that include events, podcasts, promotions, mobile, and social are all endeavors that would enhance radio as a multi-level marketing provider for the auto industry (and others). And with better attribution models, its results could be demonstrated.
Not to mention selling more cars and trucks.
Radio's reach and ability to create top-of-mind awareness shouldn't be tied to just :30 and :60 commercials that run as part of long spot clusters.
Radio's value revolves around its consumer trust, brand equity, local savvy, and its influential personalities.
When broadcasters allow auto marketers to reap those benefits, everyone wins.
Beep, beep. Beep, beep. Yeah.
Get the Nielsen report here.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.