Jingle Bells, Christmas Sells

Jingle Bells, Christmas Sells

’Tis the season for holiday cheer, and radio stations across the country are ready. Some stations, including “94.5 Prime FM” in Salina, KS, and “Mix 94.5” WMXL in Lexington, KY transitioned to an all-Christmas format on Halloween. “97.9 The River” WMGA in Huntington, WV flipped the switch even earlier, in mid-October.


SMI monitors music format changes across all the stations our clients’ ads air on, and we notify clients of impending format changes so they can make marketing decisions accordingly.

“We have a comprehensive list of stations that flip each year, and we dust it off in early October as we plan for Holiday campaigns that lean heavily into the format,” said SMI’s Senior Media Buyer Pam Wolfgram. “The station list doesn’t vary much year-to-year, but the timing of the switch can change,” she said. 

By Thanksgiving, 100% of stations that are going to change their format have done so, Wolfgram said. “We track change dates in Media Monitors so that we can accurately inform our Evergreen campaigns of any flips,” Wolfgram said. 

The format change brings with it added listeners, roughly a 40% AQH (average quarter-hour audience) increase, according to Wolfgram. Added listenership brings with it the potential for increased customer response. As a result, SMI’s clients tend to be optimistic about the format change, Wolfgram said.    


Do you want to reach growing audiences with radio this holiday season? Contact Strategic Media, Inc. to get started today.

So You Want to Advertise on Podcasts?

So You Want to Advertise on Podcasts?

Due to rising interest rates and economic uncertainty, advertisers scaled back on ad spending in the first half of 2023. But as Inside Audio Marketing reports, audio fared better than other media channels. Magazines were down 18%, newspapers decreased 17%, and linear television was down 10%, while audio ad spending (including broadcast radio, streaming audio, and podcasts) was down just 5%.

Of all the audio segments, podcasting was the “big winner,” with ad billings increasing 57% year-over-year to make it the fastest-growing media type. 

I spoke with Lee Syatt, SMI Podcast Operations, about the surge in podcast billings. Syatt said that the Infinite Dial report has shown for years that podcast listenership continues to grow. This year’s report revealed that 64% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, a 45% increase from five years ago. In 2018, 44% of the U.S. population had listened to a podcast. “Increased listenership means more people are engaging with podcasts,” said Syatt. He said that celebrity-driven shows and shows from big media partners (such as ESPN) drive listeners who may not have listened previously.  “With podcasts being more mainstream, we are seeing a lot more legacy brands get into podcasting, like McDonalds, T-Mobile, State Farm, Discover, and Capital One.” 

More advertisers are recognizing the power of podcast advertising to build brand awareness and they are including it in their growth marketing strategy. With this increase we are seeing more competition for exclusivity with top podcasts “The increase in podcast ad spend means that there is going to be more competition for companies looking to advertise on podcasts,” said Syatt, “but with the right agency behind them, brands will be able to invest their ad dollars wisely.” 

Companies who have not yet advertised on podcasts may not be aware of the incredible amount of data and insight that can be achieved through podcast advertising. For example, at SMI, we use data points from directly attributable leads, data captured at checkout in the “How did you hear about us” (HDYHAU) survey, pixel data, and insights from Google Analytics (GA) or Looker.  

“Having a multi-touch attribution model like SMI’s provides detailed performance insights to measure results and give advertisers access to critical customer behaviors.” Syatt said.

If you’re ready to advertise on the fastest-growing media channel, contact SMI today.

Audio Ads Outperform Video Ads, Study Finds

Audio Ads Outperform Video Ads, Study Finds

Audio advertising (including podcasts, radio, SiriusXM and music streaming) drives significant attention compared to other ad platforms. This was one of the key findings of a new study by Dentsu, one of the world’s largest media agencies, and Lumen, one of the leaders of attentiveness measurement. The Dentsu/Lumen study was the first-ever media attentiveness study comparing podcasts and AM/FM radio ads to all types of visual ads. “Attentiveness” is defined by the Advertising Research Foundation as “the degree to which those exposed to the advertising are focused on it.”

The greater the time duration that an ad is heard and seen, the greater the sales conversion, the study found. But only about 40% of TV ad durations have eyes on the screen, whereas podcast and AM/FM radio ads have “ears on” attentiveness of 92%. 


“A commercial on television is often just an intermission,” said Payne Ratner, Copywriter at Strategic Media, Inc. “We get a break from the show we were watching. We leave our sofa. Get a snack. Go to the bathroom. Do some small chore. And we listen, not to the commercial, but for the moment the commercial ends. Then we return to our show. With audio, much of the time, we are a captive audience. When a radio commercial comes on, we don’t pull off the road, get out of the car, lean against the fender, open a bag of potato chips and wait for the commercial to end. We keep on driving. We are exposed to the radio commercial. And if it’s a good, well written ad, it grabs our attention and pulls us in.” 


The study highlighted the importance not only of reaching audiences, but of reaching audiences who are paying attention. “It is not enough to know how many impressions were generated,” wrote Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group, on Westwood One’s blog. “What moves the needle for advertisers is the amount of attentive seconds generated by their ads.”


When determining which media to advertise on, advertisers should consider not only CPM, but aCPM, “attention cost per thousand.” In the study, Lumen calculated “attention cost per thousand” by dividing media costs into attentiveness seconds/impressions. Although podcasts are commonly considered an expensive medium for advertisers, Lumen found that, with an attention CPM of $2.80, podcasts are more cost effective than television ($3.00 aCPM). 


“For marketers who feel the podcast media CPM of $25 is pricey, this study will reset those perceptions,” wrote Bouvard. He said that podcast’s attention CPM of $2.80 is “a bargain relative to other media.” Bouvard described AM/FM radio as “extraordinarily cost effective.” With an attention CPM of 40 cents, AM/FM radio is eight times more cost effective than TV.

Are you ready to reach audiences on a platform proven to drive attention? Contact SMI today to find out how you can advertise on radio or podcasts.

Want Engaged Audiences for Your Ads? Advertise on Podcasts.

Want Engaged Audiences for Your Ads? Advertise on Podcasts.

The podcast medium continues to explode, with listenership growing 70% in just the past 4-5 years, Inside Radio reports. Podcasts now have well over 150 million monthly listeners in the US. And, as a new study shows, those listeners are paying attention.


A third of podcast listeners (33%) pay more attention to podcast ads than they do to other ads on other media, according to the customer experience platform DISQO. For those who listen to podcasts daily, that number jumps to 45%.

About two-thirds of consumers indicated that they either don’t mind or actively enjoy podcast ads. And podcast ads are better received by younger adults, who also happen to be the most frequent listeners.


According to Lisa Risk, SMI’s Podcast Strategist, Podcast’s ability to maintain listeners’ attention is largely due to the power of host-read ads. “I think it’s the relationship between the podcast listener and the podcast host that is the driving force here. Podcast listeners are more engaged to ads largely because they feel connected to the host and there’s a layer of trust there,” Risk said.


DISQO surveyed 34,841 consumers in their audience from April 6 to 8, 2023. Questions focused on podcast utilization (e.g., how often, which platforms, concurrent behaviors), search process (e.g., where they get recommendations, allure of host versus content), and advertising perceptions (e.g., sentiment, attention).

“Driven by its audio-only format, engaged listener base, and host-supported creative, we see fairly compelling evidence that podcast ads command more attention than ads in other digital channels,” the report says. “Approximately one-third of consumers report that they pay more attention to podcast ads compared to other mediums, while only about one-fourth say they pay less relative attention to podcast ads. While this difference isn’t overwhelmingly large, it does suggest that consumers can be more influenced by podcast ads.”


SMI’s Director of Client Services Christina Baeten cautions that, while a good guideline, the numbers in the study are a macro view and shouldn’t be applied at the individual show level. “The stats are generalized by age, gender, and listening habits, and only an agency with extensive history and a results-driven approach to audio advertising knows which shows or hosts meet or exceed performance targets,” Baeten said. “It all has to do with audience engagement. Does the show’s host do personal endorsements or just read talking points? Do their listeners generally engage with the brands they advertise? Are the ads served in an unobtrusive way? A smart agency has these insights at the show level and will make recommendations accordingly for your brand.”

Want to hear SMI’s expert recommendations for growing your brand on podcasts? Find the best strategy for reaching Podcast’s engaged audience. Contact SMI today. 

Looking to Convert New Customers? Choose Audio.

Looking to Convert New Customers? Choose Audio.

In a new Commspoint Influence Study by Nielsen, Audacy looked at audio across radio, streaming audio, and podcasts and evaluated audio’s ability to drive awareness, consideration, and conversion. The results are published in Audacy’s “State of Audio” guide

According to the report, “Audio holds the title as the undisputed leader of brand-building channels—working its magic with the one-two punch of massive reach + beloved personalities. But if you’re thinking of Audio as just a top-of-funnel play—good for sparking a conversation but not driving conversion—think again.”

The study found that audio is “a multi-purpose platform” effective at driving the needle at every point in the funnel, from top to bottom. Survey panelists reported that at the upper funnel (the awareness stage), audio drove 49% to awareness. At mid-funnel (the consideration stage), audio drove 40% to consideration. And at the lower funnel (the conversion stage), audio drove 45% to a trial or purchase. 

Compared to other media channels, radio smashes its lower funnel conversion goals. putting audio way ahead of TV (44%), social media (38%), and video (26%).

Brooke Murray, our Director of Strategic Growth, wasn’t surprised to see the finding. “The impact audio has at bottom of funnel has been long established as a truth through rigorous measurement. Our performance-first clients have been obsessed with measuring ROAS for more than 20 years, with secondary goals of building awareness.”


Are you ready to reach new audiences at every point of their purchasing journey, from top-of-funnel to bottom? Contact SMI today to hear your brand on radio, streaming audio, and podcasts.