LeadsRx

To the frustration of digital ad sellers coast to coast, a majority of marketers’ digital dollars continues to go into the pockets of Google and Facebook. The latest eMarketer estimate is the tech giants will receive 61% of digital ad revenue in 2020. But what if radio could show advertisers that they could get more bang for those digital bucks by adding radio? A new study commissioned by Westwood One does just that, while also showing the impact has been even stronger since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

LeadsRx measured the site traffic lift generated by advertising on Google and Facebook, AM/FM radio, and television for 100 direct-to-consumer brands who advertise with all three. It found that last year Facebook and Google ads saw a 15% increase in performance due to the addition of AM/FM radio advertising. In 2020, the impact has been even stronger since the coronavirus pandemic arrived. LeadsRx says first quarter showed an uptick in the average lift of 16.4%. But then when the lockdowns hit, the average lift surged to 20% – or a 22% increase from first quarter.

“This data shows radio contributes to the success of Google and Facebook,” said LeadsRx CEO AJ Brown. Why is radio driving even more Google and Facebook impact during the pandemic? “I believe it’s because radio listeners at home are responding more to radio ads now than they normally did last year,” said Brown. He points out the increase in first quarter performance began in March, right as many Americans started staying home. Then, the Google and Facebook performance uptick continued into second quarter.

“Radio has this ‘halo’ effect and subconscious impact,” Brown said. “Even while listening in the background while checking email or performing other work activities, it’s likely consumers recall an advertiser when getting on the internet.”

The data has built on earlier LeadsRx research that showed radio and television deliver seven-times the website traffic lift of Google and Facebook. And that impact is growing. It said the combined web traffic lift of TV and AM/FM radio grew from 40% in 2018 to 63% in 2019 even as the impact of Google and Facebook advertising has faded.

There remains a logical correlation between increased awareness for direct-to-consumer brands and the magnitude of the ad budget. But Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officers for Cumulus Media and Westwood One, said the LeadsRx data shows AM/FM radio is just as good as TV in driving site traffic and TV. He said across all the attribution studies performed, LeadsRx found a $24,300 investment in AM/FM radio generated one point of search and site traffic lift. That was about a thousand dollars less than it took to attain a point of lift by using television advertising where a $25,581 investment is needed.

“The fact that AM/FM radio and TV have the same ‘cost per lift point’ flies in the face of the TV’s supposed superiority of ‘sight, sound, and motion’,” said Bouvard in a blog post, adding, “It appears that TV’s visuals do not translate into more site traffic lift than AM/FM radio.”

He said the profile of the online shopper aligns more with AM/FM radio listeners than the TV audience while heavy TV viewers skew much older.

The analysis also found a “massive disconnect” between the media selection for direct-to-consumer brands’ advertising and which media audiences makes the most online purchases. That is because GfK MRI data shows over-the-air radio listeners represents 60% of the consumer e-commerce spend. Yet, according to Kantar Media, only 3% of e-commerce ad dollars are spent on AM/FM radio.