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Making Radio Accountable in One Easy Lesson

One of the reasons why ratings are less important than ever is because accountability – measuring what works – is more important than ever.

In an ideal world, you need both reach and accountability.  You need stuff to be heard (and seen) by a broad audience – AND you need results for your advertisers.  This, of course, is one of radio’s great opportunities in the new – more accountable – world.

One of my great frustrations about radio is that we invest so much effort in being heard and so little in being effective for our clients.

Consider the all-too-common case where a station is in a multi-way tie for fifth place in the ratings ranker. How should the client choose?  Relationships?  Price?  Yes.  What other choice does she have?

What if you gave her another choice?

What if you could demonstrate that spending money on YOUR media asset would prove – and I mean PROVE – more effective for the client?

You can.  There are lots of ways.  And I’m going to show you one.

Consider the case of an auto dealer. Auto dealers spend lots of money on radio, as we all know.

What is the goal of an auto dealer in their marketing efforts? Well, it’s to deal autos – to sell vehicles. Can you point to exactly how many vehicles your marketing effort helps your client sell?

No?  Why not?

So I walked into one auto dealer, Toyota of Escondido, and produced the following video.  Envision this as a part of the package sold by your station to its dealer partner in conjunction with an ad schedule – and driven by that schedule.

Note that:

1.  I establish who the dealer is and why it’s worth visiting

2.  We focus on one specific vehicle

3.  We provide a promotional code worth $500 off the dealer’s best price – good for the entire month, and trackable back to the producer, the radio station.

So now in our over-the-air campaign we invite interested listeners to this video on the station’s website to get a deeper experience with our client and to get the discount code.  No matter how they get the code or who uses the code, the credit flows to the station. The only folks who view the video will be those shopping for a new car.  And your station has found and filtered them.

This constitutes partnering with the client for our mutual benefit.  We are now interested not only in how much the client spends on the campaign but in how effective the campaign is in terms of how many cars move.  How can we optimize the campaign?  Is the client spending enough on the air?  Is the creative right?  What about the offer?

We have aligned our incentives with the client.  We are on the same team.

Under this scenario, what the client is really paying for is the video, since that’s where the rubber hits the proverbial road.  The air spend is, technically, the value-add. If you are giving away the video, you’re giving away the wrong piece of the campaign.

If you are a local media company in business to connect consumers with clients via your media assets then THIS is your business.  Not the one where you display rankers and send out invoices no matter what happens at the cash register.

Wake up to the new world.  It can be your proverbial oyster.

Interestingly, the agency for this dealer had a great reaction to this concept:  Not only did he like it because it was “fresh,” he also noted that it was “personal.”  And here’s the thing I had never thought of until then:  “Cars are sold person to person,” he said.  So the benefit of this video to the dealer isn’t that it “makes him a star,” it’s that it makes him personal.  It “samples” the car buying experience for the consumers and primes them to come into the showroom and experience it for themselves.

This isn’t the only way to make radio accountable, of course.  But it’s one way.

What’s YOUR way?

Would it be simpler to just run the code on the air?  Sure.  But that leads to an interruptive world where every spot has codes and per-inquiry phone numbers attached – and to the average listener that’s spam. After all, people who buy cars do LOTS of research online.  The video is aimed at them in the place they want to do research.  Although it includes a discount code, it’s a richer experience than that code alone.

By the way, if you’re in the market for a new Toyota car or truck, stop into Toyota of Escondido in June, 2010 – because that code is 100% real and you can save yourself 500 bucks more off my promotion than you can if you respond to anybody else’s advertising but mine.

And I can count my responses.  Can you count yours?

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