Special report: Clients demanding more results-oriented spending: Radio great at tight, effective targetting, but it needs better tools to convince clients, says Bray

Also in this special report:Networking: What's old is new again, p. 29The creative potential of theatre of the mind:It's the hardest medium to write for but the extra effort can pay off with some advertising gems, p. 30David Bray is senior...

Also in this special report:

Networking: What’s old is new again, p. 29

The creative potential of theatre of the mind:It’s the hardest medium to write for but the extra effort can pay off with some advertising gems, p. 30

David Bray is senior vice-president of RadioWorks, a full-service radio agency. He serves as chairman of bbm’s Survey Task Force. He would like to hear your thoughts/inquiries. He can be reached at: Phone: (416) 469-4645; Fax: (416) 469-4798 or E-Mail: dhb@passport.ca

Agencies that have worshipped at the altar of cost per point are about to face a crisis of faith.

Those for whom old approaches die hard are apt to be crucified. r.i.p….grp’s. Conversely, a variety of sweeping changes are about to revitalize the radio industry and open up opportunities for progressive, proactive buyers and sellers.

Clients are demanding better definition of their target market and more effective, results-oriented media spending. Clients who were once satisfied with a room full of account executives are seeking a much greater degree of specialization and expertise.

The current lack of training is especially evident among agency radio buyers/planners. Clients are increasingly frustrated with the fact that their budgets are put into the hands of inexperienced, under-trained personnel.

Radio is a demanding medium that requires in-depth knowledge.

Broadcasters, troubled by the increasing difficulty to remain financially solvent, are seeking new ways to both keep production costs down and better market the true strategic value of their unique, targeted medium.

While many advertisers view television as the glamour medium, radio continues to play a major role in the day-to-day lives of consumers. A listener’s affinity to a given station is often reflective of a certain lifestyle.

Listeners often wear their station of preference as a badge. The same generally can’t be said for television stations.

Radio is able to wrap its arms around a community and interact in a vibrant and immediate fashion. Radio is less affected by fragmentation or commercial avoidance than television. The medium’s weekly reach is 95.3% of adults 18+ with a weekly average of 22.0 hours per capita in tuning. (Source: Fall 1995 bbm) Still, that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

In an increasingly complex and economically challenging marketing environment, it is vital that strategic research tools be improved. Niche or targeted marketing is a client reality.

The radio medium is second to none in its ability to target tightly and effectively. A flexible, vital, tactical alternative to simply offering broad reach. Timely, comprehensive research is a necessity to ensure survival. It is with this in mind that the new era is set to begin in the spring of 1996.

The upcoming incorporation of single-source product usage/ lifestyle questions into bbm diaries beginning in spring 1996 is the most significant development in years.

Shedding light on the complexion of radio’s targeted audience will certainly allow for proficient selling and buying, not to mention an overall increase in revenue for the medium. Now reach/frequency runs against the real target group (cross referencing product usage with demographic information) will be a possibility.

Clients are willing to pay if you can demonstrate what the product (radio) is worth.

The new survey questions have been finalized. Timeliness, consistency and reliable trending will be established by having the questions appear in every survey in all markets.

Quantifications of the following will be covered (in addition to demographics):

- Grocery expenditures

- Soft drink, coffee, milk, beer

consumption

- Fast food, restaurant patronage

- Shopping mall patronage

- Video tape rentals

- Sports, recreational activity

participation

- Movies, bars, concerts,

sporting event attendance

- Vacations, airline flights

- Clothing expenditures

- Car purchases/leases

- Auto maintenance/repair work

- Major household item

purchases

- Home improvement/

renovation expenditures

- Financial investments

Also on the bbm horizon is more consistent measurement (2 weeks/ month for 12 months a year) as well as the development of monthly trends (with four-month rolling averages), which will aid programmers/buyers in market analysis.

Supplementary to all of this will be a comprehensive major-market return to sample survey covering more detailed retail areas. This should appear in the relatively near future.

Another initiative on the horizon which seems to have promise in s.t.a.r. (Strategic Audience Research). This project is the joint venture of the radio, television and newspaper marketing bureaus with the participation of bbm.

The goal is to develop a shared resource of product usage/lifestyle information (through a return to sample surveys), which could be cross-referenced with tuning/readership data from any of the participating media. Discussions are in the preliminary stages with any possible implementation at least a year and a half away.

Innovative approaches to making use of radio’s strengths (tight marketing, promotional opportunities, programming flexibility, immediacy, community orientation) will bring new clients to the medium and increased volumes to the stations.

This in turn will lead to new pricing philosophies which reward successful executions. Focusing solely on cost per point will ensure we never move forward.

pmb has been the most commonly used research source for planners. While it is unquestionably an outstanding piece of research, it is unsatisfactory as primary radio research.

This new research should ultimately fill the gap, giving planners a more reliable basis for strategic radio thinking.

Radio Product Measurement (rpm), while a significant step forward, lacked timeliness, consistency across all markets, and integration with the demographic reports necessary to establish a foothold in the planning/buying community.

It is now critical that both agencies and rep firms generate better-trained radio personnel. It is not sufficient to simply turn the project over to the broadcast (read television, etc.) department.

Clients must demand more of their agencies. Stations must demand more of their sales representatives. Radio experts, well versed in radio research, programming, promotion and individual market peculiarities, will emerge.

The era of mega-buying/planning of broad demographics, which placed the emphasis strictly on cost per point, will begin to give way to more strategic marketing.

On the other side of the fence, broadcasters will increasingly turn to networking in order to keep production costs down. For example, look at chum’s talk network or Pelmorex’ recent purchase of Rogers’ Satellite Radio Network. Networks can offer advertisers consistent targeted audience profiles across a number of markets.

In some instances, station groups are centralizing their creative or production departments in order to improve the group’s overall operating efficiencies.

Keep the faith. Radio’s future looks very bright. Greatly improved research and better-trained radio specialists should ensure marketing viability. The medium continues to target and interact with listeners and communities in ways only radio can.

Radio’s fortunes will certainly take a turn for the better if only we can bring ourselves to turn around and look ahead.