When it comes to radio advertising, only one thing truly matters: How do you keep listeners from changing the dial? The competition for the attention of listeners is seemingly endless, creating a challenging environment for advertising clients and radio stations alike. However, signs are increasingly indicating that the answer to the competition conundrum is something radio does better than virtually any other medium. That X factor is engagement. Audience engagement is something that listeners increasingly expect, and it is something that radio stations have done since their inception.
The ultimate way to engage audiences is contests, which have been a fixture of radio programming for decades. Additionally, research indicates that one of the impacts of COVID-19 on listeners is their increased interest in participating in radio competitions. Listeners love the rewards they get for taking part in radio engagement efforts like competitions. However, the benefits for clients can be even bigger.
Audience engagement begets more engagement.
Although audience engagement efforts can initially seem unwieldy, it’s important to recognize that engagement has a snowball effect. This reality has always been known to radio, which, as a medium, has consistently made audience engagement a key part of its strategy. From request-driven shows with playlists determined by audience selections to contest entries for concert tickets, engagement efforts on radio have a double-pronged impact.
First, listeners engage with the initial opportunity, such as calling in to make a request or enter a contest. They then continue listening to learn about the outcome of their engagement. Was their song selected? Did they win the contest? For clients using radio to connect with local customers, this means increased impact for advertising.
Today, traditional radio engagement efforts are even more effective, thanks to addition of social media. Research indicates that radio users are much more likely to engage across all social platforms than local TV watchers, local newspaper readers, and local website readers. For stations and advertisers alike, this means that continued engagement on social platforms in conjunction with on-air efforts begets more engagement.
The power of engagement from an advertiser’s perspective can be seen in the story of a Buffalo radio station that worked with the Make-a-Wish charity on a fundraising drive. Not only did the station raise an impressive amount of money, but the charity became one of the top five favored charities of listeners after the drive. Before the radio campaign, during which the station also engaged with listeners on social media, the charity did not even rank in the top 10 for listeners.
The pandemic changed the impact of radio contests.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the reach of radio contests was thought to be dwindling—a result of the other mediums competing for listeners’ attention. However, early research into the changes in radio listening habits—and specifically, contest participation—that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that contests are back. One in 10 people who have never participated in radio contests in the past began participating in 2020, and three in five heavy radio listeners participate in contests regularly. The larger the prize in question, the more likely listeners are to join in a contest. The figure of $1,000 seems to be the tipping point. Eight in 10 people, including people who don’t usually take part in radio contests, report that they would engage in a radio contest with a $1,000 prize.
This information is good news for stations and clients. Listeners are more motivated to join a contest in which the prize could improve a pandemic-related financial struggle than they are a prize like a chance to meet a music artist. These kinds of prizes are ideal for advertisers to sponsor, so that they are front and center of the engagement. Contests also open avenues to learn more about audiences on social media. The data collection that comes with contest engagement on social media is invaluable for stations and advertising clients. This data forms more targeted advertising that serves listeners better—thus drawing them in for further connection.
Listeners benefit from audience engagement, too.
Happy listeners increase the impact of advertising, and audience engagement is the key to creating happy listeners. Although there may be other mediums competing for listeners’ attention, those aren’t always locally focused. Increasing engagement encourages listeners to opt for a local station more often, because engagement will always be designed around local interests and demographics.
Consider, for instance, stations that regularly welcome and fulfill song requests. It doesn’t matter which avenue of engagement the song requests come through, be it a call to the station or comment on social media. The end result is that listeners know that the station is playing the songs that they want to hear. That’s music to the ears of advertisers, but it is also a better experience for listeners. The same outcome is true for radio contests. Listeners can directly benefit from the prizes that they receive, but they also indirectly benefit from the excitement of engaging in the contest and the anticipation of hearing a winner announced. Most importantly, perhaps, they benefit from the data collected from them during radio contests. This information allows the station to better tailor their work to the needs of the listeners. Ultimately, not only do the listeners hear the songs they want to hear, but they also learn more about businesses in their own backyards offering the services they want.
Salem Surround is hyper-focused on audience engagement to improve experiences for our clients and listeners alike. Connect with like-minded consumers by letting us put you in front of the right audiences and rely on our engagement strategies to ensure that listeners react. Contact us at (844) 277-5797 to talk to an audience engagement specialist today.