One of the most attractive features of online advertising is its targetability. Literally millions of dollars get placed in search or contextual advertising. Now Clear Channel has announced a new scheduling enhancement that enables its stations to offer reliable, automatic ad placements based on the content demands of an advertiser.
Clear Channel says that the proprietary system has been in preliminary operation for the past year and is now available to all national advertisers. Test campaigns for major national advertisers VISA, GEICO and Wal-Mart, produced outstanding results for the advertisers. One of the campaigns sought to boost sales at Walmart for the new AC/DC album Black Ice. MediaVest and Clear Channel Radio devised a program where a Wal-Mart ad for the album would run immediately after an AC/DC song was played on a selection of 106 Rock AC and Album-Oriented Rock stations in 91 markets. If no AC/DC song was currently on the station’s playlist, the 30-second spot appeared after a song by a similar artist.
Wal-Mart moved 784,000 copies of the album during its first week in stores: the second-largest debut week for a new album to date in 2009, according to Billboard magazine.
OMD and Visa diverted television dollars to radio to fund its test of the system, and saw a 10% rise in short-term volume through VISA’s network compared to the same period the previous year. VISA ultimately singled out the campaign as a company-wide best practice.
Geico’s campaign ran spots at 15 after the hour telling listeners to spend 15 minutes to save 15%. No specifics on the lift that Geico enjoyed were given.
It’s hard, reading the press release, to understand whether there’s an actual technology in place here, or a simpler scheduling protocol that enables this approach. Either way, it’s a great idea to boost the effectiveness of an ad campaign by placing it near relevant content. This is the kind of innovation that the industry needs. Hats off to Clear Channel for leading the way.
Online radio industry magazine Radio Business Report recently polled key network radio supervisors around the country to get their perspective on the 2010 upfront. RBR’s Carl Marcucci asked each person to discuss their ad spends on streaming/digital media as well, and those answers were very upbeat.
Horizon’s Maja Mijatovic, who spends for Geico as well as other clients, gave the most positive feedback, saying her agency’s spend will be “much stronger than 2009. Sellers have been working diligently in providing interesting solutions which in turn peaked agency/clients’ interest. Overall bringing more accountability to the overall audio buy. Excellent job on the part of the sellers.” OMD’s Natalie Swed Stone noted that dollars from that shop will increase as it (Internet radio) “becomes more mainstream.” Kim Vasey of MediaEdge and Eileen Casey of Zenith both indicated that spending levels will increase to match a growing audience and more digital offerings.
I contacted Brian Benedik of Katz360, one of the firms responsible for developing Internet radio dollars at these agencies, to get his perspective on network radio dollars moving to Internet radio. He said they’re definitely seeing a move to invest more dollars into online radio. “They have seen the growth on the consumer side,… the emerging mobile audio consumption… It’s become more mainstream and they want their clients aligned with it,” says Benedik, adding that some network buyers who have been reluctant to put dollars into Internet radio earlier are influenced by what others are doing as well as by their clients’ interest.
Satellite radio and HD Radio did not fare so well in Marcucci’s poll. While some indicated that spends on satellite radio will remain the same next year, no one showed much interest in investing in HD Radio, with Swed Stone noting that it “hasn’t achieved critical mass.”
Internet radio has taken several giant steps this year, including arriving at a uniform standard for audience measurement that makes it easier for agencies to recommend it. At the same time, the medium benefited from the leap of streaming radio to mobile devices such as iPhone and Blackberry, increasing public awareness and interest, and grabbing the attention of advertisers and their agencies. Combined with years of groundwork, these factors have provided momentum that should help grow the flow of dollars to Internet radio.