Looking to Win New Auto Customers Online?

In the all-important marketing battle to win new customers, it’s easy for brands to be tempted by the promise of new media and the (fading) scale of television. But they’d do well to consider radio, according to a new report from iHeartMedia and LeadsRx, a media attribution software company, which reviewed 17 months of data analyzing the impact of more than 2 million radio commercials for more than 300 automotive advertisers. The results were startling: the majority of radio attributable web traffic is from new customers who’d never visited the brand’s site before. And the impact was immediate: within 10 minutes of a commercial airing, websites saw an average 17% lift in traffic.

The study, conducted in partnership with iHeartMedia, underscored the influence of on-air talent: host-read endorsements drove twice the response rate. That’s because radio talent act as all-important companions during broadcasts, and that companionship translates into influence. According to iHeartMedia’s proprietary research, 75% of listeners perceive a “deep connection” with on-air talent, while 79% say they value their opinions and perspectives.

Interestingly, auto brands who advertised seven days a week saw 90% better results than those who advertised three to four days per week. In other words, potential customers are as engaged during the week as they are on weekends. They’re also in their cars all week, where radio dominates in-car listening. Not surprisingly, promos for car brands and dealerships aligned particularly well with morning, mid-day  and afternoon drive-times, since most car-shopping happens during the day.

Campaign performance has always been an uncertain alchemy—is it the creative, ad length, timing or frequency that contributes most to a campaign’s success? iHeartMedia and LeadsRx ran a variety of statistical tests to determine which of these variables played the largest role. They found that the single most influential factor in web lift was the media schedule (reach and frequency—simply, the number of people who hear your ad and how many times they are exposed to it). And they determined to a high degree of confidence, that a higher spot load led to higher results 91% of the time. Turns out, 10 commercials per day is the inflection point. For advertisers, this is crucial data: an incremental increase investment (from 8 or 9 spots to 10) could double performance.

At iHeartMedia, we caution advertisers to avoid the “one size fits all” approach that sees brands use the same creative across all platforms. We encourage innovating with music, male versus. female voices, calls to action, as well as frequency and length. In fact, the LeadsRx research suggests that a campaign that includes a mix of ad-lengths, dayparts and days of the week will yield the best results. In other words, diversity matters. And iHeartMedia—America’s reach leader—reaches over 91% of Americans every week. That’s as diverse as it gets.