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Brands Suffer When Dropping Radio From Media Plans


Westwood One
Westwood One

According to a study commissioned by Cumulus Media and Westwood One by MARU/Matchbox, dropping AM/FM radio from a media plan can cause major damage among heavy radio listeners while brand equity suffers. In light of the pandemic, the case study examined a brand that was taking on two major category players in 2017-18. With radio, the brand became a strong performer and brand equity grew and usage shot up -- especially among heavy radio listeners. When, in 2019, the brand decided to shift out of radio for a campaign to focus on television, it found:

  • Nielsen analysis: TV skews much too old for the consumer category. The brand's category users are mostly made up of adults 18-49 (73%). When the brand left AM/FM radio for television, campaign impressions skewed much older. Only 36% of the TV impressions were 18-49. The vast majority of TV deliveries (64%) occurred over the age of 50.

  • The demographic imbalance of the TV plan also extended to key targets for the brand. Compared to heavy TV viewers, heavy AM/FM radio listeners are far more likely to be members of the brand's frequent shopper club, have access to their distribution platform, and are much more likely to be heavy category users.

  • Dropping AM/FM radio in 2019 caused erosion in awareness, weekly usage, brand consideration, and AM/FM radio ad recall. After strong growth from 2017 to 2018, association to brand attributes stagnated from 2018 to 2019.

  • Dropping AM/FM radio also caused major damage among heavy AM/FM radio listeners. Brand equity suffered greatly down the entire purchase funnel with double-digit losses.

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