A new Nielsen Catalina study of 500 advertising campaigns confirms that “reach” is indeed a primary media sales driver. It’s no secret to the radio industry that the airwaves reach 93% of Americans each week. The fact, however, that agencies and brands incorrectly perceive that figure to be 62% remains a major radio challenge.

At the June 2017 Advertising Research Foundation conference, Nielsen Catalina unveiled a massive ROI study that analyzed 500 different ad campaigns and elements that contribute to sales. Reach was tabbed as a heavy driver, at 22%; the only factor listed above it was Ad Creative, with 47%. In order, the rest of the factors perceived to contribute to sales success were: Brand (15%), Targeting (9%), Recency (5%) and Context (2%).

Covering the study on the Westwood One blog, Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus/Westwood One, offers, “Targeting is certainly an ROI lever, yet reach’s significance as a sales driver is almost two and a half times greater.”

Bouvard then cites the bestselling marketing book “How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp, driving his point home by quoting AdAge: “At its heart, ‘How Brands Grow’ is about recognizing that a brand’s consumers come and go, so winning means winning more often and that requires broad reach.”

Unfortunately, advertisers continue to “horribly underestimate AM/FM radio’s reach,” Bouvard writes. Breaking down the 62% stat, he references the just-released Advertiser Perceptions study of 316 agency and media decisions makers. Their belief that AM/FM radio’s weekly reach is 62% has not changed since 2015 when a similar Advertiser Perceptions study conducted revealed radio’s perceived reach to be that same figure.

Based on this new Nielsen Catalina study, Bouvard says, “Radio’s stunning reach is both our strongest asset and best kept secret among advertisers. Given the proven importance of reach to sales lift, the industry needs to do a better job of touting its impressive reach to advertisers and agencies.”