The role of marketing is to increase the likelihood that consumers will choose your brand by making it easy for them to remember you and do business with you. For a large number of marketers, radio is a vital component in their outreach strategy due to its mass reach across customer segments. But how do you calculate the right amount of activity needed to get the results you want?
The correct answer depends on the goal of your campaign. Researchers at CUMULUS MEDIA I Westwood One and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) partnered to reveal guidelines and best practices for different types of radio campaigns.
Very light and light schedules: Best for maintenance / branding campaigns with moderate reach and frequency levels, reaching between one-third and one-half of the station’s audience an average of 1.4 to two times.
Medium schedule: Best for promotional campaigns or events where more listeners are reached often, reaching two-thirds of the station’s audience an average of three times.
Heavy schedule: A major event or product launch where many listeners are reached frequently, reaching 78% of the station’s audience an average of 4.3 times.
So what determines how many ads / messages are needed for each type of campaign? Turns out, that metric is 'turnover.'
Turnover represents the number of different groups of people that make up a radio station’s audience. Dividing the number of different people reached by a station in a week (CUME) by it’s average quarter-hour audience (typically the number of people reached by one message) determines turnover.
The higher the turnover, the more messages are needed to reach the audience with enough frequency to achieve campaign goals. Time spent listening (TSL) is lower on stations with high turnovers. Stations with lower turnovers have higher TSL.
Different types of radio stations have different turnover rates. Commercial formats such as Contemporary Hits that air up to 15 minutes of advertising per hour or have fast music rotations have high turnover rates – listeners are constantly shuttling in and out as they switch stations or “channel surf” when a commercial break begins or seems to go on forever.
Brands need to air a very high number of spots per week to reach each of these different audience groups enough times to achieve campaign goals. A survey of radio sellers and agencies conducted as part of the CUMULUS/RAB study showed that the number of messages needed to achieve medium and heavy schedule goals are often underestimated when turnover rates are factored in.
This is where the public media difference comes into the formula. The high ratio of programming vs. sponsorship messages on public radio (typically only 2.5 minutes per hour) combined with the immersive rather than interruptive nature of the messages results in less channel surfing, therefore lower turnover.
Sponsorship messages flow with the programming; they’re heard in the station voices listeners recognize and trust, and in the way they prefer being spoken to. Less audience groups to reach means fewer messages will deliver the same frequency results as a much heavier schedule on a high turnover station, optimizing marketing budgets.
It’s important to consider who you’re reaching, not just how often. Public media is without parallel in reaching an educated, affluent and influential audience of decision-makers. Sponsors benefit from the trust and loyalty the audience ascribes to brands who support stations they care about and often financially contribute to.
The value of loyal customers cannot be understated. According to a Harvard Business Review study, loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones. Marketing to an audience inclined to do business with station sponsors puts you in a position to build brand loyalty. In a national survey, 66% of NPR listeners said they prefer to buy products from companies that sponsor an NPR station, and 71% said they have a more positive opinion of a brand when they find out it sponsors an NPR station.1
When you’re ready to put the power of public media’s low-turnover, highly engaged and loyal audience to work for your brand, your station partner can help build a research-backed strategy based on your campaign goals to connect with your target audience and get results.
1Kantar, NPR State of Sponsorship Survey, April 2020