ABX Advisory

Insights on Advertising Effectiveness to Boost ROI and ROAS

Four Tips for Great Radio Advertising with the Best/Worst of 2018

Posted by Angela Jeffrey on May 7, 2019 5:06:04 PM

So far, you've seen good and bad Print and OOH ads from 2018 in this column, and today you'll see the same for Radio. To make this analysis really useful, we've contrasted good and bad 2018 spots within Four Tips for Great Radio Advertising. These tips have emerged through our testing of 13,000 radio spots over the past five years, and 1833 in 2018. For more on radio creative testing, see our Integrated Media pillar page.


Radio is bad picture

In 2016, the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) shared ABX research findings in,  "Advertising Effectiveness - New Research Shows Radio Potentially Most Effective Medium."  The explosive key findings:

  • Comparing average scores across all media types, radio usually comes up short (see chart to right).
  • Among high performing ads with quality creative, radio is every bit as effective as other media.  (See second chart).
  • Given tradio is equalhe low cost of production and lower CPMs, radio with quality creative will generate a higher ROI than all other mediums.
  • What matters is the quality of the creative - and, one way to be sure your creative is good is to copy test it through a syndicated advertising effectiveness research firm. 

So, what makes for good radio creative?  Here are some best/worst radio spots for 2018 within the context of Four Tips for Great Radio:

1.  The Most Effective Radio Ads Use Simple Voiceover with Minimal Background Effects

  • Best: Walgreen's - "Millions of Children Living in Poverty Today ..." Out of 1833 radio spots tested in 2018, this ad hit #1 with an ABX Index of 130, great clarity of Message, huge Reputation and very high Action scores including Intent to Purchase at 149 and Intent to Talk About it at 180.  Keep in mind that an AVERAGE ABX Index and KPI score is 100.  This spot is in the Top 1% of ALL ABX ads in all mediums.  Now, let's be fair: this spot is about Red Nose Day and how Walgreen's is helping.  PR or image-related ads usually sell well in radio.  But, the key to this spot is it also uses a calm and clear narrator and a little background music that quietly builds.  Click to on the headline or image below to hear the spot.

ABX Advertising Effectiveness Scorecard for Walgreens

  • One of Worst: KFC - "Mini Fillet Snack Bar" ... The hip-hop music in this ad is actually kind of cool by itself, but the execution is so loud and the voice is so unclear, one can't know what the spot is about. Remember, an ABX "average" score is 100, so these scores are hurting.  Of all the potential errors that can be made in radio creative, drowning out your message with sound effects, rock, rap, drums, etc. is a costly one.  

ABX Ad Effectiveness scorecard for KFC

2. Brand Mentions Should be Early in the Ad and Many

  • One of the Best - T-Mobile - "Whether you're active Military, a veteran ..." This is a simple Live Read without sound effects, but the DJ does a terrific job of getting the T-Mobile name in early, and repeats it five other times.  He also does the legalese in a more relaxed pace.  The spot is the 6th highest scoring radio spot of the year.  Again, it has a strong PR angle with the military.  But the Brand Awareness score of 106 and Message of 127 wouldn't be that good without the name reinforcement.  Both Reputation and Action promise great results for T-Mobile.

ABX Advertising Effectiveness scores for T-Mobile

  • Worst: Cricket Wireless - "Save on the Big Summer Phone Sale" -  This poor spot had the typical rushed male voice over and Cricket wasn't even mentioned until the 7th second, and only that one time.  The rest was legalese.  It could have been repaired so easily with a little testing.

ABX Ad Effectiveness Index for Cricket Wireless

3. Brands Need to be the Hero of the Story, Not a Mere Mention

  • Heinz - "Cream of Tomato Soup - Season Change- what a perfect example of this tip.  This spot is #14 on our list of 1833 measured radio ads and you'll hear why.  A wonderful soundtrack with clear British female narrator creates a story of season change, brrrr, and warm Tomato Soup.  This spot did NOT mention the client name early, but the story was compelling enough for listeners to wait.
ABX Advertising Effectiveness Index for Heinz
  • One of Worst - "You Want that Avion You Trying?" - This spot tries to be real "New Orleans-y" and almost makes it, but not quite.  It becomes unintelligible quickly and the DJ goes off on all the things you can mix into the product, and  how he'd like to go to New Orleans, but he never discusses the product itself.  Ads like this do nothing, literally, for a brand's reputation or anything else.

ABX Advertising Effectiveness Index for Avion

4. Enthusiasm is Good, but Tone Should be More Conversational, Without Being Overzealous

  • One of the Best - Lubriderm - "Hands so dry, her skin was cracking" - Here's a great example of story-telling about people who suffer with dry skin, and how the announcer saw the solution in Lubriderm.  The tone is easy to listen to as proven by the high Message score of 124, Reputation of 167 and Action of 134.  CTA's scoring high included Intent to Purchase at 125 and Look for at 182.  This is a great spot to emulate with just narration, and no noise.

ABX Ad Effectiveness Index for Lubriderm

  • One of Worst - Macy's - "85% Storewide Sales" - Sales and promotions are always exciting, so enthusiasm is warranted.  But this type of enthusiasm with blaring rock music underneath makes listeners reach for the "off" button.  Below you see there is no recognition of the brand (Awareness) or understanding of the Message.  There was also a very high Dislike score of 291 and no positive CTAs.  This style of radio spot went out of fashion with the 60s.

ABX Advertising Effectiveness Index for Macy's

Our next analysis of 2018 good/bad ads will focus on Television, so don't miss it!


How the ABX Testing is Done

ABX provides ad effectiveness scores from human respondents against 14 variables and in all media types. ABX Index values are a comparison of the results of an ad versus the average of all ads in the ABX database (160,000+ ads). Click for more information about definitions and methodology. 

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