SCBA, Nielsen go under the hood with new automotive study

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SCBA, Nielsen Go Under The Hood With New Automotive Study.

The Southern California Broadcasters Association and Nielsen are putting the wraps on a follow-up study to last year’s groundbreaking research about the value of AM/FM radio for today’s competitive auto industry. While the initial study focused on what motivates auto buyers, the media they consume and the attributes of the radio audience, the second study is designed to help broadcasters improve spot creative for auto campaigns.

“One of our goals for this project is to ascertain the words and creative that move listeners to consideration and to purchase when they’re listening to their favorite stations,” SCBA president Thom Callahan says. “We think we’re a great medium; we’d like great commercials to run on our stations.”

A second goal is to demonstrate radio’s role in driving traffic to auto dealer websites. OEMs and dealer groups have shifted significant dollars to digital media in recent years, in some cases allocating half of their budget to digital. “Clearly, that has eroded radio’s budgets,” Callahan acknowledges. While digital often gets the credit for visitation to dealer websites, the SCBA-Nielsen study aims to prove radio is a prime driver.

As a reference point for the forthcoming research, a recent Video Advertising Bureau study showed 76% of automotive brands examined show a direct correlation between TV spend and website traffic. On average, the brands that increased their TV investment spent 15% more on TV and saw a 48% increase in unique website visitors while the brands that decreased their TV investment spent 15% less on TV and saw a 28% decline in unique website visitors. The SCBA-Nielsen study is hoping to show similar results for radio.

“In the past we thought it was Google search but we’re now starting to come around to the theory that it could be radio driving people to a dealer website,” Callahan says. “We feel that we can drive traffic just as well as any other medium and possibly do it in a timelier manner.”

Dealerships strive for top of mind awareness when consumers begin online research for a vehicle purchase. iHeartMedia chief marketing officer Gayle Troberman tells Inside Radio, “Most dealers track their radio campaigns by the impact of web search and they continue to be among some of our biggest and most predictable radio advertising clients because radio gets the brand in your head and accelerates and increases the impact of digital search.”

The new study, expected to be released in late September, is based on 800 online interviews with Southern Californians that bought a vehicle in the last 12 months or intend to purchase in the next 12. It’s part of a new wave of research, data and analytics being used by the radio industry to better demonstrate its value to media buyers. “We have a new generation of marketers, agencies and clients that are used to data points that prove a point and are fair and honest,” Callahan notes. “We think that radio is a very effective tool for web and showroom traffic and it is our hope that this study will prove it – again.”

SCBA members and the trade group’s board were encouraged by positive reaction to the first study from dealer group, dealers and agencies. Based on Miller Kaplan trend lines, Callahan says the first study “corrected our erosion” of auto ad dollars. He credits the study with stopping “the huge migration” of ad dollars that was occurring in the latter part of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. “By April we saw the swing back,” he says. “While it has sometimes been a bumpy ride, they rediscovered us and came back. This type of research helps ensure that our revenue at least remains stable and hopefully grows. This is a long-term battle.”


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