“If radio isn’t a significant part of your marketing mix during – and after – the pandemic, you’re missing a huge opportunity.” That’s the message to advertisers from Dr. Greg Cynaumon, CEO of ad agency ADcology, which counts LifeLock, GNC, Draft Kings, LegalZoom and Dollar Shave Club among its clients.
“Radio – and podcast to a lesser degree – is crushing it for our clients and is outpacing television and digital by a wide margin,” says Cynaumon, a psychologist by trade.
ADcology positions itself as “PsychTech” that behaviorally profiles customers and matches them in its database of top podcasts, radio programs and YouTube channels. The goal is to deliver “a finely-tuned media campaign which eliminates much of the trial and error method that results in failed campaigns.”
Cynaumon sees two major reasons why audio leads TV and digital during the pandemic. First, radio listening is rebounding with Nielsen showing the medium in May had regained 90% of its March cume audience, when governments began to issue stay-at-home mandates. Yet even with listening approaching pre-COVID levels, ad rates still lag behind and favor advertisers.
But the most important reason, Cynaumon explains, has to do with the psychological composition of audio listeners.
The psychologist-turned-ad exec sees consumers today falling into two general groups. Members of what he calls Group A are “justifiably anxious about health, sheltering/working from home or furloughed, company stability, and personal finances.” Although they fill their time with digital content and traditional TV, those channels aren’t driving ROI. “The challenge is their anxiety about the future and reflexive pessimism cause them to shut down emotionally. And no matter how great your campaign, engaging anxious consumers is brutally difficult,” he contends.
Meanwhile, a second group, dubbed Group B, has emerged with daily routines that lean closer to normal. “They’re back to work, moving about more, feeling more optimistic and most importantly – not as anxious about their future and finances,” Cynaumon elaborates. Which is one reason radio is outpacing digital and television for ADcology’s clients. “People are commuting more and listening to radio.” But that’s only part of his hypotheses for why “radio is crushing as we de-hibernate.”
Central to his argument is the “deep connection” listeners have with a favorite radio personality that doesn’t extend to digital video or TV. “Nowhere does this play out more powerfully for our advertisers than through on-air (and podcaster) product endorsements,” Cynaumon says.
The other major reason radio is “winning big for our clients” is because it delivers relevant info in real-time which satisfies a human need to feel informed. And the news comes from a “trusted friend who helps us interpret how that news affects us,” he adds.