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March 3, 2004
Don't Touch That Dial: Drive Time Is Prime Time for Radio

Maybe instead of telling you what an expert I am it might be more appropriate for you to tell me why you aren't using Radio as your primary vehicle for your advertising campaign. If Radio has missed its mark in convincing some major media planners that Radio can be the primary medium to convince, sell, change perception or introduce a new product or service, let's examine some of the evidence.

Jack Myers posed some interesting demographic perspectives in a previous guest column (in this publication). If what he says is correct about the big shift in demography is it possible it is time to begin seriously looking at more than just 18-49 or 25-54 and begin to analyze lifestyle and life stage?

AWS Roper recently reported findings on the six new consumer groups. AWS Roper uses the following titles—Intimates, Creatives, Strivers, Devouts, Altruists and Funseekers—to describe these lifestyles and the dynamic difference in their purchasing habits. Many of those described fall into the same demo age groups and therefore belie the easy solution of buying media using only age and gender. Some consumers are certainly known to be early acquirers; some are known to be cautious, some willing to try new products and some not so anxious to take risks. Additionally, established brands are attractive to some, where other consumers will try new products that haven't had their brand established.

Now let's add additional criteria-maybe more critical than any other factor in advertising: When is the customer available to buy from you? Media Targeting 2000 studied when consumers are available to buy and the most dynamic factor in that decision is "Time Poverty." According to the Census Bureau, there are now more women in the workforce than men. Historically media targeted women because women were the primary customers buying for the family. Forty four percent of women are un-married and forty percent of adult men are likewise un-married. With all of us at work and so many either single parents or single living alone we now cannot rely on someone else to do the shopping so WE DON'T SHOP ANYMORE! what we do today is make notes of things we need and when we are in the vicinity we BUY! Sales promotions are becoming so frequent that many customers are not responding. Consumers have become skeptical. We are unsure of whether or not it is a legitimate sale and more importantly, since we are so time-impoverished we don't have time to take advantage of the sale. Most consumers buy when it is convenient for them. Media Targeting reports that in that final hour before Americans make their major purchase of the day Radio is three to five times more in use by consumers than TV or newspaper.

The second most likely medium to reach consumers while they are in motion to buy is Outdoor (Billboards). Today 42 % of all Radio listening is done in the car and that percentage becomes significant when the research says Americans listen to radio on average three and a half hours each day. Reaching consumers when they are ready to buy suggests Radio can reach them at the right time and in the right place.

Finally, if we've identified the changing American Consumer as a complex, difficult to typecast person who's lifestyle and life stage suggests that simply looking at age and gender are not enough; is it time to begin looking at targeting by media? Radio has chosen to make targeting easier and yet the conundrum for Radio station management are questions; "How can I buy Radio? There are so many formats and I don't know which one I should use" or "Isn't cost per rating point the only thing that counts?" One reason 97% of all Americans listen to Radio weekly and 77% of Americans listen to Radio daily is BECAUSE of formats. Specific formats create intimacy for listeners causing longer time spent with radio during the day than any other media.

New qualitative evidence on an index basis indicates Americans behavior has changed rather dramatically and those changes come about in purchasing habits, product usage and most assuredly media consumption. Bottom line: Media share or the time Americans spend with media on average gives radio a rather significant lead on any day.

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Radio is a valuable component of most media mixes, and if you have forgotten that fact, Roger Dodson will gladly remind you of radio's benefits. Senior Vice President for the Radio Advertising Bureau, Roger is a 38-year veteran of radio station management, and was named "Broadcaster of the Year" by Radio Ink Magazine. http://www.rab.com
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