CRN study illuminates both broadcast and streaming audio ad effectiveness

A CRN International study of radio advertising effectiveness in the Millennial demographic (18-34) shines light on aspects of audio advertising on both sides of the broadcast/streaming fence. The research was conducted last June, and released publicly this week. The full report can be downloaded here (PDF file).

CRN International is a creative marketing company serving radio advertisers, and the study (“Radio Messaging and What Gets Millennials to Buy”) supports its business. The headline result is that “content marketing” is far more effective in motivating Millennial purchasing than traditional radio spots. Content marketing is described as “useful or entertaining information about an area of interest to them,” and also “information and tips they can use both personally and professionally.”

By that definition, content marketing is not necessarily the same as native advertising, which weaves marketing messages into programming content, blurring or erasing lines of separation. Native advertising is demonstrably effective in podcasting, a fast-growing dimension of streaming audio. In that medium, a host’s personal experience with, and recommendation of a sponsor’s product is highly valued. Only 25% of the study’s Millennial subjects value endorsement by “favorite radio DJ personalities.” In another study chart, only 1% favored “DJ endorsements” — presumably more generic mentions by hosts that the listener doesn’t particularly follow. In podcasts, the entire franchise is typically wrapped around the host personality, where intimacy and trust comprise a strong relationship that the advertiser can leverage.

The most revealing comparison between study results of radio advertising and how advertising works in streaming audio is about spot loads. The spot load comparison isn’t new, but these are new numbers to put against it. The Millennial respondents disclosed how quick they are to ditch a radio station when the dreaded spot break starts. A substantial 40% of respondents tune away after one commercial, and 72% are gone by the end of the second commercial. (Remembering that these are Millennials, who stereotypically live on-demand digital lives.)

crn millennials spot load

Streaming audio has two important advantages in listener retention. First, the spot loads are much lower. In our adStream feature, a weekly diary which stalks streaming audio advertising and reports on its features, we have never encountered a spot load with more than two ads.

The second advantage is personalization. Personalized programming (presumably) makes it less tempting to switch away from a stream which is delivering customized music or talk chosen by the listener. A side note to that is that on many platforms (e.g. Pandora) switching to a different stream keeps the user in the same audio source, exposed to that platform’s ads.

NOTE: for a strategic overview of online audio advertising, attend our webinar: The Streaming Audio Marketplace, Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 2pm. (INFO) (DIRECT LINK TO REGISTER)

Brad Hill