Radio Ads Transcript
Season 2: Episode 10

This is a written Transcription for the episode: Avoid Radio Ad Failure With The Top Mistakes And Secrets Of The Midwest Mindset podcast.

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Full Written Transcript of The Episode

Matt Tompkins: My first love is radio. I started as an intern in radio and spent over 17 years in radio broadcasting. I have a nostalgic love for radio. I think we all have that nostalgic love for radio, television, print these old school advertising mediums. But the world is now digital. So where do these old school mediums like radio fit into your marketing strategy? Yes, there are some very easy ways to waste a lot of money in radio advertising, just like there’s a lot of easy ways to waste money on Facebook ads and Google ads just the same.

But there are a lot of secrets to radio advertising that are very effective and actually very affordable for small businesses. Today, we’re going to break down the secrets of radio advertising.Welcome back to Midwest Mindset, the podcast that gives You the small business owner, the big agency Secrets to Marketing. I’m Matt Tompkins of two Brothers Creative, where we believe every business deserves affordable and effective marketing. Now I want to preface this episode by saying that it is not a pro radio episode or an anti radio episode.

There are some very good, effective tips we’re going to get to here on the show that most small business owners don’t even know about. They don’t think about. And yes, we’re going to get to some very big mistakes you can make with spending your ad dollars in radio. Radio. It’s no different than any other platform, any other medium to advertise and promote your business, except for nostalgia. Radio has this nostalgic hook on us. We grew up listening to radio. Radio was massive for how many decades, right? Massive. The influence that it had on us sticks with us.

And so I have seen this this movie play out many times over where a small business owner with a small budget for advertising doesn’t really know where to spend the money. So they think, well. I grew up listening to radio. It was huge. I loved it. It has to still be huge, right? And they spend this money, they just buy some ads and it doesn’t work. They don’t see any results. And this isn’t unique to just radio. Business owners waste a lot of money on Facebook ads. Google ads. The reason why they don’t work most of the time here is because business owners don’t research or learn about these different mediums to see if they are the right ones to reach their target market.

Matt Tompkins: What makes radio different is that nostalgia that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode. We grew up with radio. We have an emotional attachment to radio. We have idolized in our minds what a radio star, a radio show looks like. It’s identity and that can blind us to the reality of what radio is today.

Radio today has changed just like every other advertising medium dramatically since the time when radio was huge and dominant back when we grew up listening to it. So in today’s episode, my 17 plus years in radio finally pay off because we’re going to give you the behind the scenes tips and techniques for radio advertising that are both affordable and effective. And we’re also going to talk about the big mistakes you want to avoid, the big mistakes that are far too common and can really destroy a small business and their overall annual marketing strategy.

But first, I think it’s important we talk about radio ratings and why you should care. What are radio ratings? Well, the ratings are what we use to determine the value of the radio advertisement. So how much you spend on a radio advertisement on any particular radio station, that price is determined by these radio ratings.

Matt Tompkins: Now, the radio ratings are this this formula. And there are two factors in this equation. First, you have time spent listening. So time spent listening is how long in a given week, how much time does a listener listen to that station? And the other factor is the cume. And the cume is the cumulative size of the audience.

So you may have a massive audience that tunes in and tunes out so they don’t have a very long time spent listening and they could actually rank lower even though they have a larger audience than a station with a small listening audience, a small cume and a very high time spent listening. But it’s those two things, those two factors that determine the ratings. How do they figure out how many people are listening to these radio stations? Well, in bigger markets, they have what are called people meters. And these are almost like little beepers that people take with them.

And they actually pick up the signal of the radio stations. And those are much more accurate than what most most markets like ours here in Omaha, Nebraska, have. In Omaha, we have a handwritten diary market now. What is a handwritten diary? Well, a handwritten radio diary. It’s basically it looks like a pamphlet, you know, like a brochure. It’s mailed to you and you’re actually sent five crisp $1 bills to do this. And so you get this in the mail, you’re paid to do it.

Matt Tompkins: And you open up this pamphlet and it folds out and it asks you which radio station do you listen to? And it’s Monday with the time breaks, you know, 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m. And you do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You do this for about five days and then you mail it back in. And if you mail it back in, they’ll send you another ten crisp $1 bills. So now you’re pretty rich. I mean, you got 15 bucks in your pocket. It’s time to celebrate the problem or the challenge with handwritten diary.

Markets like ours is that we have no idea how accurate they actually are. We just don’t. Now, we are relying on a number of things here. We’re relying on a people to fill these out accurately and recall information accurately, which we know humans are notoriously not that great. At most people recall something, they’ll think, okay, you’re asking me what radio show I listen to at 9 a.m. on Monday, they’ll just recall a radio show that they remember and they didn’t necessarily listen to it. We see this with television ratings as well. When you ask people, what’s your favorite late night TV show? Oh, you know, Stephen Colbert, when was the last time you watched him? Oh, two, three years ago. I don’t know. And it may have been just a clip they saw online so people recall whatever pops into their head and they think, morning show, what morning show do I know? And they write that down.

Matt Tompkins: So recall. Hall can be very inaccurate. And then they have to do this for five days. Accurately. There are a lot of times I’ve seen these diaries where they just write down a station and then they just draw a line indicating that they listen to this station for 24, 48, 72 straight hours, and they are a loyal listener. There’s also the issue of accuracy in what you write down. So I have seen this as well in these radio diaries where let’s say you listen to, you know, my brother and I, we had a radio show back in the day and you say, I listened to the Matt and Ben Show and then they write down the wrong radio station call letters.

That diary doesn’t count even though they did listen to the radio show. It just doesn’t count. Let’s say that you don’t listen to the radio like many people in the morning, and instead you write down I listen to Pandora at 8 a.m. Pandora is not going to show up in those ratings because that diary doesn’t count. The assumption is that everybody in this market, in every market listens to a radio station. It’s just a matter of which station they listen to.

They also send out around 1200 or so of these handwritten diaries, which means that you have one single diary based on all those all that assumptions, the recall, the inaccuracy or accuracy, we don’t really know.

Matt Tompkins: One of those represents 8 to 12,000 peoples listening decisions. So the challenge, the problem with handwritten diary markets is that we do not know and we cannot prove how accurate these ratings are. That translates to you and your radio advertisement. We cannot tell you or prove how many people actually heard your ad over the traditional airwaves, the broadcast airwaves. That leads me into my first tip here of this episode.

And the first tip is be cautious and ask them to prove it. When you are spending money on commercials that play over the air. So over the broadcast air. In other words, when you’re sitting in your car, your antenna picks up the signal. That’s an over-the-air broadcast that’s traditional or terrestrial radio signal that we talk about. Be cautious and ask your representative there, your ad representative to prove it, because there are a lot of challenges that over-the-air broadcast in people’s vehicles face. Let’s just look at the human behavior and how we listen and what we’re doing in our car.

The challenge is that your radio advertisement is going to have to overcome. First is what do we do when commercials come on the radio? What is it that most people do? We hit the reset button. We change the channel. So right out of the gate, you’re losing a lot of people who are not going to hear your ad.

Matt Tompkins: Number two, your commercial is usually smashed or smooshed into like a 7 to 8 minute spot block. Now, a commercial is a spot.

We call it a spot block. It’s going to be in there in the middle, a 32nd ad in between, you know, 20 other 32nd ads. And that’s going to dilute how effective your ad is going to be. Our most people going to listen to a 7 or 8 minute commercial spot. Block And are they going to listen intently? Are they actually going to pick up the information in your ad? That’s the third element here.

They did a study recently. They found that a person has to read or hear a radio ad 36 times before they recall any of the information in it 36 times. So now they have to hear your ad, which we know we’re losing people when they change the channel. It’s in a middle of a 7 or 8 minute spot. Block So it’s going to be really difficult for them to hear.

That’s why they have to hear it 36 times. That’s a lot of times. Now, if you’re paying 150 to $200 per airing of that commercial, that’s a lot of money for people to finally start recalling the information, the message in your advertisement. Number four, we’re not paying attention to the radio when we’re driving, when we’re listening to the radio while we’re driving.

Matt Tompkins: Most people, unless you’re driving all by yourself, have other things going on. We have kids in the car. We have distractions. We’re paying attention to traffic. We’re changing the channel. We forgot to change it back.

There are a lot of distractions when you’re driving and that makes over-the-air broadcast. It just makes it hard again to get your message to your target market. And the last thing, number five here is that we as I mentioned in the beginning, there’s just no way to know accurately exactly how many people listen to a given radio station with these handwritten diary markets. We just don’t know. We can’t prove how many people did or did not hear your advertisement.

And that’s not saying that there aren’t a lot of people listening and that there aren’t a lot of people who would hear your ad, It’s just saying we don’t know. Radio is unique because every other every other advertising platform, every digital platform online, you can track precisely. I can see exactly how many people saw my Facebook ad, my Google ad, You can literally pay per click. You can’t do that in radio, at least not yet. There’s not a way for us to have a 100% or 90% margin of accuracy with these ratings. So what should you do? That leads me to tip number two, what to do instead, Spend your money on streaming ads, streaming ads or radio station broadcasts that you listen to on the Internet.

Matt Tompkins: Our trackable streaming numbers are tracked very accurately, just like any other digital data points. We get them, you can see them, you can prove them, and you can see exactly how many people are listening to a show, a radio station online, and how many people will hear your commercial. Now, there are a number of other reasons why streaming ads are legit, and they are a great way for you to market your business.

Number one, they are often much more affordable. They cost a lot less than the over-the-air radio advertisements. I remember back in the day when streaming stations were first coming into the scene becoming a thing and they were selling them for like $1. It was like a dollar holler hour or something like that. They just couldn’t get people to buy these. Now, obviously that’s changed. They don’t cost a dollar anymore.

They cost more than that, but they are much more affordable than over the air. And I believe from my perspective, they are much more effective. And let’s get to why they are more effective. Well, people don’t change the channel when a commercial comes on, when they’re listening to a streaming station, it’s a pain in the ass when you’re in your vehicle and you’re listening to a radio station and a commercial break comes on, it’s easy to just hit the button, hit the preset, jump to the other station and see if there’s music playing or whatever.

Matt Tompkins: So you don’t have to hear a dreaded commercial when you’re listening on online, on the Internet, you have to disconnect. Then you have to wait, wait, wait, reconnect. And you have to go through the whole pre-roll video and then find you connect and you log on and it’s just it’s not convenient. And so people are going to sit there and leave the station on, which means it’s a much higher chance of them actually hearing your advertisement. Now, another thing that is a big advantage for streaming ads is that the behavior of the people.

Is different than in the vehicle we talked about in the vehicle. There’s all these different distractions, right? The kids, the traffic, everything else. Most people who listen to streaming stations, they are sitting they are doing one thing. They’re usually working. They’re sitting at their desk. They’re doing one task. It’s similar to people listening to podcasts, which makes which is why that podcast are so effective for advertising, because you have their attention.

They aren’t distracted like they are when they’re in the vehicle. People listen to the entire commercial break, 70% more than over the air. So 70% of the people online listening to streaming stations are going to hear your commercial. They’re going to listen through. They’re going to say, you know what? I’m not going to change your channel.

Matt Tompkins: It’s a pain in the ass. I’ll listen through it. And they’re not doing anything else. They’re sitting at their desk, they’re working, they’re pretending to work. Whatever it is, they’re going to hear your ad and they’re going to actually process the information. People are more focused when they’re listening to a streaming signal. I will also add that a couple of the biggest audiences that you’ll find for listening to streaming broadcasts are Newstalk and Sports Talk.

Those are huge for online streaming listenership. Now, my tip number three here is one that a lot of business owners don’t even think about. But this tip works and it is using local radio talent. Now, I can say this since I spent 17 years working in local radio, we are cheap, we are very cheap, We aren’t paid much and we will take anything we can get.

We are very effective though, and here’s why. When you have someone do an endorsement or voice your commercials. That people have a real connection with, they’re going to be much more effective. Now, local radio talent is cheap. It sounds bad, but it’s true. But we are very effective. And you can have someone voice a live 62nd endorsement commercial once a day, and it’s only going to cost you around 100 bucks. It depends on the show. It depends on the show and the ratings. Some are like 200 bucks a week, but I think the average would probably be around $100 per week for them to do this and add this major value to your advertisements.

Matt Tompkins: They’ll also voice all of your other commercials as part of the deal. So it’s a really good deal. Use local radio talent. Now, the reason is people have a connection, so they listen to these people. It’s a morning show host and they have a connection with them. They listen to them every morning. They have an emotional attachment. And so when they start doing a local live endorsement commercial for your business, they’re going to listen to it.

They’re going to tune into it. You can also get them to voice all your other commercials and put those on the streaming broadcast to be even more effective, more potent. Another secret addition to working with local talent is you can actually request with these live endorsement commercials to have it be the first placement ad in a commercial spot.

Block So even if it’s a 7 or 8 minute spot block, you can request to have that ad since it’s an endorsement placed at the very front, which means people listening over the airwaves are much more likely to hear your commercial. It’s not going to sound like a commercial because you’re using a local radio talent that these people who listen to the show like they love. They don’t mind listening to them. They trust them.

Matt Tompkins: They trust them. My next tip here is to do your research, find the stations with the highest listener loyalty and the audiences who can actually afford your services. You want to find radio stations that have your target market in their listening audience. And a lot of times businesses make this mistake where they just see a nostalgic heritage radio station. Oh, I grew up listening to that station and they assume they’ve got a massive audience and maybe they do. Maybe they show them the ratings, which we talked about earlier.

Not very. We don’t know if they’re accurate. And they say, oh, yeah, we’ve got 40,000 people tuning in every week. Oh, my gosh, that’s great. Yes. Here, take my money. I want to run my ads. And then they don’t get any results and they wonder why. Well, we don’t they don’t know.

They didn’t do the research to find out. Even if that station has a massive audience, is it the audience for you, for your business? So find the stations who have high listener loyalty and that actually align with your target market. How do you do that? Well, some of the stations or formats that have the highest listener loyalty kind of nationwide, it’s same here in Omaha, Nebraska, would be country music stations, very popular across the country. News and sports talk stations. They don’t have massive audiences or that cume, but they have huge time spent listening and they will listen through those commercial blocks.

Matt Tompkins: They are very loyal listeners. And then you have Heritage popular morning shows across the country, those radio stations that just have massive shares in the ratings, they’re number one. They’ve been number one for 30 years. And they can really they could tell their audience or ask their audience to do anything and they’ll do it, which means if they ask him to, you know, go to your business, there’s a good chance that they will. Who do you want to avoid?

I don’t know if I’d say avoid, I would say maybe be wary of be cautious with top 40 stations, younger music stations. Music stations are tricky across the board because people are listening for the music. And if the wrong song comes on that they don’t like, they’re changing the station, right? They’re changing the station. So people are tuning in and tuning out.

You know, we’ve seen breaks where people that time spent listening, it’s only like 5 to 10 minutes. And so it’s really hard to get them to stick around through a commercial spot block if they’re just listening for the music. So I would just be cautious with the music stations and the music stations. If you do want to go that route, those are the stations. I would really encourage you to look at the streaming signal because everybody listening to the streaming broadcast for these popular music stations, they’re going to listen to those commercials because, again, it’s a pain in the butt to log off, log on, and they’re just going to they’re just going to sit through it and they’re going to hear your message.

Matt Tompkins: Go to a website for a radio station and look at their photos from past events. Go to a live event that a radio station is putting on and you’re going to meet and see the people who are the listeners for this station and that’s going to help you decide, Are these are these my people? Are these the people in your target market that you’re trying to reach? You need to know things like age, sex, these demographics, these data points.

They’re going to tell you if this is the right place to spend your advertising dollar. The tricky thing with radio is that with the ratings, we just don’t know. We just don’t know. You know, you go online to any other digital advertising platform and they can show you all these statistics, all these analytics you do know. You do get the full breakdown. A final quick bonus tip for you here before we wrap up the episode would be pre-roll videos.

What is a pre-roll video? Well, before people can start listening to a radio station streaming broadcast, they go to their website, they log on, they hit listen live. They have to see a pre-roll video. Now, these pre-roll videos are normally about 15 seconds.

Matt Tompkins: They are both audio and video. We’ve talked about the power of video in previous episodes. These are very effective because every single person who listens to that streaming broadcast has to see your pre-roll video. So pre-roll videos are very effective and you can see exactly how many people listened or viewed to that pre-roll video. So the bottom line for today’s episode is ask them to prove it. Ask them to prove it.

We can prove it in any other advertising medium. We can see the analytics. We can see the data. We can see exactly how many people saw or heard. Your ad set aside your nostalgia for radio because the radio we remember growing up, it’s not the same radio today. It’s evolved just like everything else.

I will say this we’ve talked about a lot of very effective and affordable tips for today’s radio, a lot of things for you as a small business owner to take advantage of. Now, a lot of affordable and effective ways to grow your business, but you have to follow the guidelines. You have to do your research and know what you’re getting into and not depend on nostalgia. Follow our guide, not your gut. Thanks so much for listening here today to Midwest Mindset.

We have a recap of all these tips in the show notes for you here today, and we’ll see you on the next episode.