The Spirit of Radio

Invisible airwaves – Crackle with life – Bright antennae bristle – With the energy – Emotional feedback – On timeless wavelength – Bearing a gift beyond price – Almost free…

Lyrics from “The Spirit of Radio” – Rush (1980)

I am pretty sure that my favorite band was not singing about the virtues of radio as an advertising medium, but the song may just be an ode to radio’s effectiveness for connecting with audiences. A recent study found that exposure to a radio ad campaign resulted in higher levels of consumer response across all stages of the purchase funnel. The magnitude of impact varied from brand awareness being 10 % higher to a whopping 38% lift in brand recommendation and 39% lift in brand affinity. In other words, radio works!

Results of research on the impact of radio advertising suggest an ability of radio to engage listeners on an emotional level. The greatest difference between the exposure and non-exposure groups was in “feeling” responses of liking and advocacy. It is challenging enough to break through advertising clutter to get your audience’s attention, let alone eliciting positive feelings about your brand. Radio seems to have the potential to meet a vital need of tapping into the emotions of an audience.

One huge question is left unanswered: Why? What characteristics of the audience and the medium make radio effective for connecting emotionally with listeners? One possible explanation is that the favorable mood created by a radio station’s programming may influence the audience’s receptivity to ads. Also, radio spots can create powerful mental imagery as we supply the “video” in our minds to the audio of a radio commercial. This level of engagement with a message can have a positive impact on its “stickiness.”

The lesson learned is to not give up on radio just because there are newer, trendier communication tools like Facebook and Twitter. As long as people are listening, marketers should tap the spirit of radio to strengthen emotional bonds between their brands and customers.

Media Post Research Brief – “The Power of Radio”

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