The Biggest Mistakes in Direct Response Radio Advertising

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Thursday, Mar 13
file1681273024166

Updated for 2009

One of the most popular articles we’ve written is titled The Five Biggest Mistakes in Direct Response Radio Advertising. Here are the mistakes we listed in that article:

  1. A Faulty or Non-Existent Testing Process
  2. Inadequate Data Capture and Analysis
  3. Flying Blind (Proceeding before knowing what success is defined as in terms of your key campaign metrics)
  4. Using Vendors Who Don’t Know Direct Response Radio (even though they claim to)
  5. A Corrupted Creative Process

Looking at this list today, we’d have to say that these five mistakes are still among the top mistakes we see people make. However, there are some new “top” mistakes, and some more refinement we’d make to those on the list.

The testing process remains a point of relatively low understanding. In general the conflict that seems to arise is where the client wants to test using a very low budget, but still wants to learn the answer to a large number of questions with a high degree of reliability. Those goals are conflicting.

The issue of “inadequate data capture” remains, however it has changed in a fairly dramatic way. Since we first wrote the “Five Biggest Mistakes” article, the web has catapulted to the top data tracking issue. Why? Because we’ve learned that radio advertising drives a boatload of online leads and orders. In our testing we’ve found that for every dollar we see coming through a phone center, there is between $.35 and $1.00 coming via the web. It’s actually more complicated than that, because that assumes nobody is trying to pick off your customers with their own PPC and SEO efforts – which is a bad assumption that gets worse as your campaign gets more successful. Other companies will try to reap the benefit of your advertising, and they’ll succeed if you don’t do something about it. We now require all clients to meet minimum web tracking benchmarks before proceeding with testing.

For whatever reason, “Flying Blind” is not as big an issue. People seem to know their key metrics.

Using vendors that don’t know direct response radio, particularly when it comes to the call center, remains a significant challenge. The good news on this front is that over the last few years some of the more well-known call centers have become much better at closing radio calls. In the past, they had become used to the layups that come in from TV infomercials and their sales skills were not as sharp.

The creative process remains under threat on a few different fronts. The most meaningful seems to be clients who perhaps don’t have enough trust in the experts they’ve hired to create radio ads for their business. This is an understandable situation since the client is the one spending the money and it’s their product so they know it best. But our recommendations are based on years of experience with what works and what doesn’t in direct response radio. We combine that with what we learn from the campaign brief provided by the client to produce an a radio commercial (or commercials) that we believe will produce the best results. The best way for us to describe how to avoid this mistake is this: provide the agency a full and complete campaign brief up front. Then, when you’re asked for feedback on copy or the final produced ad, do your best to restrict that feedback to a) customer insights that you feel were missed, b) incorrect facts in the ads, and c) legal requirements that need to be met. 

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Updated for 2009

One of the most popular articles we’ve written is titled The Five Biggest Mistakes in Direct Response Radio Advertising. Here are the mistakes we listed in that article:

  1. A Faulty or Non-Existent Testing Process
  2. Inadequate Data Capture and Analysis
  3. Flying Blind (Proceeding before knowing what success is defined as in terms of your key campaign metrics)
  4. Using Vendors Who Don’t Know Direct Response Radio (even though they claim to)
  5. A Corrupted Creative Process

Looking at this list today, we’d have to say that these five mistakes are still among the top mistakes we see people make. However, there are some new “top” mistakes, and some more refinement we’d make to those on the list.

The testing process remains a point of relatively low understanding. In general the conflict that seems to arise is where the client wants to test using a very low budget, but still wants to learn the answer to a large number of questions with a high degree of reliability. Those goals are conflicting.

The issue of “inadequate data capture” remains, however it has changed in a fairly dramatic way. Since we first wrote the “Five Biggest Mistakes” article, the web has catapulted to the top data tracking issue. Why? Because we’ve learned that radio advertising drives a boatload of online leads and orders. In our testing we’ve found that for every dollar we see coming through a phone center, there is between $.35 and $1.00 coming via the web. It’s actually more complicated than that, because that assumes nobody is trying to pick off your customers with their own PPC and SEO efforts – which is a bad assumption that gets worse as your campaign gets more successful. Other companies will try to reap the benefit of your advertising, and they’ll succeed if you don’t do something about it. We now require all clients to meet minimum web tracking benchmarks before proceeding with testing.

For whatever reason, “Flying Blind” is not as big an issue. People seem to know their key metrics.

Using vendors that don’t know direct response radio, particularly when it comes to the call center, remains a significant challenge. The good news on this front is that over the last few years some of the more well-known call centers have become much better at closing radio calls. In the past, they had become used to the layups that come in from TV infomercials and their sales skills were not as sharp.

The creative process remains under threat on a few different fronts. The most meaningful seems to be clients who perhaps don’t have enough trust in the experts they’ve hired to create radio ads for their business. This is an understandable situation since the client is the one spending the money and it’s their product so they know it best. But our recommendations are based on years of experience with what works and what doesn’t in direct response radio. We combine that with what we learn from the campaign brief provided by the client to produce an a radio commercial (or commercials) that we believe will produce the best results. The best way for us to describe how to avoid this mistake is this: provide the agency a full and complete campaign brief up front. Then, when you’re asked for feedback on copy or the final produced ad, do your best to restrict that feedback to a) customer insights that you feel were missed, b) incorrect facts in the ads, and c) legal requirements that need to be met. 

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When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There's always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

    facebook
    twitter
    linkedin
[/et_pb_section][/et_pb_post_content]
[/et_pb_row]
[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

    facebook
    twitter
    linkedin
[/et_pb_section]
[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

facebook
twitter
linkedin
[/et_pb_social_media_follow][/et_pb_column]
In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

[/et_pb_column]
twitter
linkedin
In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative!