Read the study Radio General Sales Managers won’t show clients

Steve Kowch reveals the study on his On The Kowch Blog

From where I sit On The Kowch, radio sales managers probably won’t be sharing with advertisers the findings of the latest CRN International study on the impact long commercial breaks have on listeners. That’s because the listening habits of 525 radio listeners polled blows up the myth that people don’t tune out when the music stops for commercials. They might not change the station, but mentally they stop paying attention to what is on the radio until the music resumes.

When it comes to radio advertising, clients in the United States will be spending $16 Billion in 2014 to reach their share of the 244 million Americans that listen to radio every week.

“Almost seven out of 10 respondents said they don’t make it past the second in a series of spots during the commercial break; 64 percent said they don’t make it past the first,” says the study. “The law of diminishing returns applies, according to the survey, as spots get further and further down the order within the commercial set. Even for avid radio listeners—those respondents who said they listen several hours a day—31 percent said they listen to the first commercial but no more.”

study on how many radio ads do you listen toAs if this wasn’t enough bad news for radio sales managers, 80 per cent of the respondents to the Connecticut-based national ad agency study, said they pay very little attention to the traditional 30 second or 60 second commercials. The study found these commercial formats, length, content and placement within the commercial breaks, hinder their effectiveness in converting consumers to buyers.

“Radio commercials still get some traction, the broader conclusion is that they are not a highly effective strategy and, as currently delivered by most broadcasters, are at a listening disadvantage regardless of how informative, clever and witty they may be.”

So what kind of advertising will catch the attention of a listener for them to buy the product  or service advertised? Survey says: 77 per cent of those polled said they are most interested in listening to those that provide useful or entertaining information about an area of interest to them. When that happens, 41 percent said that kind of custom content was the tactic that would make them most likely to consider purchasing a product from that sponsor.

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“Non-traditional marketing tactics take salient product communication points out of commercial stop sets (aka commercial breaks) and place them inside programming segments, when consumers are actively listening to radio. They work because they communicate with listeners through  formats they seek out, enjoy engaging with, and are more likely to believe, all at a time when they are most inclined to be paying attention.” Click here to read the full report.

These can be endorsements of product or services by the radio announcer and a regular 60  second interview with a client in their show.

The CRN International study confirms what I’ve been telling sales for years, that  no one is listening to long commercial breaks. We knew that in talk radio because many callers on hold would drop off during a long commercial break. In music radio, you see it in the car when your children start hitting the buttons to find a station not in a commercial break.

From where I sit On The Kowch, if there is one format that is more forgiving of commercials, it is the talk format. It is also where you can have the new content marketing of endorsements or mini interviews with clients. It comes out of the commercial inventory but listeners don’t hear it as a commercial. That’s because they are done live outside the traditional commercial break.  We do a good job of masking these sessions as  programming by placing them at the start of the commercial break.

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media 

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email