A new study released by Arbitron and Edison Media Research raised questions about whether TV spots for radio are effective at increasing radio station listening. The study, the first of its kind in the radio industry, examined the impact of TV campaigns for two Philadelphia radio stations using Arbitron's portable people meter, which encoded the station TV commercials in order to track the radio behavior of those who were exposed to them. In both cases, the TV campaigns failed to produce significant listening increases.
Results of the study were presented at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show, being held here in conjunction with the Radio and Records Convention.
Conducted in the first quarter, the first case study encoded a 30-second TV spot for Adult Contemporary powerhouse WBEB (B101)/Philadelphia. It then "tagged" B101 listeners in the Philly PPM panel and "followed" them through the 12-week campaign. The spots ran after the station's highly successful all-Christmas music programming had ended, when B101 was focused on bringing back core listeners that drift away due to the all-holiday music format.
The PPM recorded 8,634 spot detections over the 12-week campaign -- almost three detections per panelist. The study showed that 62 percent of all panelists -- and roughly the same percentage of women 25-54, B101's primary target demo -- saw the spot during the campaign.
"People who saw the spot spent a little more time with B101," Edison founder Larry Rosin said. B101 registered a 12+ AQH share of 5.0 among panelists who didn't see the spot and a 6.2 among those who saw it five or more times.
Digging deeper, Edison and Arbitron separated B101 listeners into light, medium and heavy users of the station. While the PPM showed the three groups were equally exposed to the TV campaign, how they reacted was different.
Increases among heavy and light listeners were negligible. But listening among moderate listeners rose from 4.1 in the first week of the campaign to 7.3 in the 11th week. "For people who are more on the fence, it moved them up," Rosin concluded.
B101 is one of the nation's most aggressively marketed radio stations and routinely pre-tests its TV commercials before they air. WBEB owner Jerry Lee said he cut back on his lavish TV budget two years ago, after using PPM data to study the impact of TV marketing on radio listening.
"With the diary, TV was dynamite," Lee said. "Half of the diarykeepers didn't fill out their diary until the end of the week, and when you're top of mind, you're the one they remember. With PPM, you can't fake it."
Lee, who estimated he spent $30 million on TV marketing over the last 11 years, said he'll still use the medium to keep his station top of mind. "You just can't use it to hype the ratings anymore."
Now-defunct Greater Media smooth jazz WJJZ also encoded a TV spot, a 15-second commercial that emphasized that "smooth jazz is back" with a "new address." (Greater Media brought the station back to the market on a new frequency after Clear Channel had canned the format.) The spot netted 5,121 detections. While roughly half of the market's PPM panelists saw it, only 11 percent of those exposed to the spot listened to the station.
Arbitron president of sales and marketing Pierre Bouvard cautioned about drawing "grand conclusions" from the study. While neither campaign produced a big pop, there are other measures to gauge your brand, Bouvard said, such as perceptual studies. "Beware of focusing all marketing resources on the short-term pop," Bouvard said.