BIA Advisory

Quick-service restaurants, a staple of radio ad diets, are on track to spend $4 billion on local advertising this year, according to a new report from BIA Advisory Services. Local advertising plays a crucial role for the QSR category, which includes well-known national brands and less-known regional and local favorites.

Far from a one-size-fits-all proposition, the per capita ad spending in the QSR category varies significantly from market to market, even in the 10 largest markets, according to the firm’s “Insights into Local Advertising” report. In light of those differences, many marketers favor a localized approach. “Local advertising plays a critical role in the QSR category even for national brands,” said Rick Ducey, BIA’s managing director and author of the report. “As one marketing director noted to us, ‘If you don’t have a relationship with your community, you won’t have a business for long; (local advertising) is an investment, not a cost.’”

Although the lion’s-share of QSR spending will go to direct mail, at nearly 30%, the industry has also been faster to adopt mobile advertising than most, and will spend slightly over $500 million, or 12.8%. The entire category will dip slightly over the next few years, before exceeding its 2019 level.

As the QSR marketing mix becomes more driven by data, technology, competition and industry-specific factors, Ducey noted that media sellers can offer valuable insights, info and recommendations for appropriate campaign strategies.

To examine the media consumption of QSR customers, the report offers a local case study from MRI-Simmons. Looking at QSR customers aged 18+ in the Washington, DC market, the case study identified their most heavily used media as the internet and TV tied at first place (each used by 40%). They are followed by radio in third place at 38%, then magazines (35%) and newspaper (29%.)

Summer is primetime for QSRs with the likes of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Arby’s and local favorites amping their advertising across the board at traditional media—on radio, national TV and cable television, according to Media Monitors. McDonald’s was No. 5 over the AM/FM airwaves from June 10-16 in the 85 radio markets that Media Monitors tracks, while Wendy’s roared to No. 10 from the previous week’s No. 63 at radio. Subway (No. 12), Taco Bell (No. 44), Panera Bread (No. 61), Dunkin’ Donuts (No. 71) and Chick-fil-A (No. 96) all placed among the Media Monitors’ top 100 radio advertisers.