For many radio ad buyers the decision regarding where to place a client’s advertising is simple: What are the numbers?
Sure, there are other factors such as the station’s demographics, coverage area and overall listenership. But numbers are king.
But is that enough? I don’t think so.
Sure, all those factors are important, but if you are a communications professional the decision should also involve research. You should know the stations where you plan to spend your clients’ money and know the kind of content they broadcast.
Here is a real-life scenario:
At a client meeting it was suggested by an advertising executive that the company should spend some advertising dollars on a talk radio station. The numbers made sense.
However, a woman at the meeting protested.
“That station features a host I find personally offensive,” she said. “He recently referred to a woman as a slut. Is that really where we wanted to spend our ad dollars?”
Immediately, all the males in the room started to quiver. They certainly did not want to offend the woman and seem politically incorrect.
None wanted to be considered a misogynist. None wanted any controversy whatsoever, internally or externally.
“Maybe we should skip advertising there,” volunteered one executive. The rest quickly nodded.
The ad executive didn’t miss a beat.
“No problem,” he said, “there are plenty of other stations where we can get our message out.”
He then suggested that those ad dollars could be spent on a highly rated morning show. After all, he said, the host has a coveted young demographic of hip consumers.
Everyone nodded that the morning show would be a wise choice.
However, one young executive wasn’t so sure…
“I know his ratings are strong, but have any of you actually listened to his show?” he asked. ”I am not sure the content is appropriate for our business or our brand.”
A few in the meeting rolled their eyes. This guy must be some sort of born-again Christian. The decision where to place the company advertising was supposed to be a easy.
None of the participants said they had ever listened to the show. However, one noted his teen children listen to it all the time and seem to enjoy it.
“How about I play a segment of the show at our next meeting and we can make the final decision on advertising?” the executive asked. They all agreed and gladly moved on to other items on the agenda they considered much more important.
The group got together a few days later and the young executive hooked up his iPhone and started playing a podcast of the morning show in the meeting. The host spent several minutes talking about oral and anal sex with his fellow on-air jocks and callers. He bragged that the best girls are the ones from broken families where they had “daddy issues” and would do anything to please him.
The conversation then focused on various sex tricks with the host telling a joke about how he almost fell asleep while performing oral sex on a woman he had just met. The female radio host giggled.
The main host then made fun of Christians and their silly beliefs. A comedian then came on the show and spent considerable time talking about the variety of sex he has on the road, and what he likes and dislikes with the various women he picks up along the way. The show broke for a commercial featuring a store selling sex toys.
The room was silent.
Most of the executives were uncomfortable, particularly with a female in the room. One wondered if he could get in trouble with Human Resources for even playing that in a corporate meeting.
He envisioned sitting in a room with a lawyer taking a deposition over the female’s future lawsuit and trying to answer the question: “And is it true you actually played this podcast during a corporate meeting?”
“This is the stuff my kids listen to?” said one executive, who seemed visibly upset. ”I will tell you, if I am embarrassed to listen to this filth in a meeting then I don’t want our company advertising on there.”
The ad executive nodded in approval. Even he had seemed shocked at the content and tried not to show it. After all, he was purely a numbers guy. To him, content was almost irrelevant and he rarely–if ever–listened to any of the stations he recommended to clients.
“Maybe we can look for other stations that are more in-line with your corporate mission and values,” he said with confidence. It was a great recovery from a potential client mess.
Maybe 2013 is the time for companies to make a New Year’s resolution to begin looking simply past the numbers where they spend their advertising dollars. If the content on a radio, TV show or newspaper does not align with the company’s values maybe it is not a wise buy and should be avoided.
The days of simply making ad buying decisions based on numbers are over. It is time to realize that even when the numbers are great, spending ad dollars in an inappropriate place can actually hurt a company, its brand and reputation.
Advertising should be more than a simple numbers game.