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Study: Local Radio Performs for Political Candidates


Cumulus Media
Cumulus Media

The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group (AAG) has released new analysis of two non-traditional creative approaches to political ads. The results showed that utilizing candidate-voiced ads in political campaigns and customizing political copy with station-specific verbiage that seeks input from listeners drove greater voter intent and were seen as more uplifting.

The creative analysis reveals valuable insights and best practices for political audio campaigns. Some highlights include:

  • Station-specific ads that call out the station call letters, fit the energy of the station, and seek to improve the campaign through soliciting feedback performed better than standard political ads. They delivered higher lift in voter intent (+9) versus generic ads (+7).

  • The key segment of swing voters was more receptive to station-specific political ads versus generic ads (+3). According to Nielsen Scarborough data, AM/FM radio delivers an 82% massive reach of all swing voters.

  • According to Nielsen Media Local Impact, Nielsen's media optimization platform, a 10% allocation of the media plan to AM/FM radio boosts voter reach by +8% with no increase in budget. Given that political races are being decided by such slim margins, adding AM/FM radio to the plan can help candidates optimize their media for the largest possible reach.

  • Ads voiced by a political candidate outperformed both Veritonic political campaign benchmarks and political ads with a professional voiceover. Candidate-voiced ads also drove higher voter intention lift (+6) compared to Veritonic political benchmarks (+5) and professional voiceover ads (+5).

  • According to Edison Research's "Share of Ear" study, AM/FM radio accounts for 76% of the daily audio time spent with any ad-supported platform among registered voters. "Share of Ear" also finds that AM/FM radio has substantial ad-supported daily shares among Democrats (73%), Independents (75%), and Republicans (78%).

"Political candidates need radio," said Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard. "The TV landscape is always going to be cluttered leading up to elections. AM/FM radio offers candidates a way to cut through the noise. We know that one of the big reasons listeners turn to radio is to feel connected. They trust the medium. Political candidates who have ads on the radio can benefit from the halo effect of being in such a trusted environment. With the new best practices uncovered in this analysis, not only will political candidates reach listeners who are primed to receive their message, but they will be set up for success by connecting with their most important target audience - swing voters."

"We're excited to partner with the Audio Active Group in the release of this new data pointing to ways candidates can easily optimize their audio creative for maximum impact," added Veritonic Founder and CEO Scott Simonelli. "Creative audio has the power to reach the right audiences at the right moment and time. Understanding your audience and what they respond best to is essential to building out a political campaign with the confidence to ensure that no ad dollar is wasted. We have seen the success of audio in its ability to create desired outcomes during critical political election periods and its influence on voters' intentions to elect office officials."

The complete political creative analysis is available at WestwoodOne.com/blog.

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