Advertising Options in the Digital Age

In recent months, Bridge Ratings has been asked by ad agency buyers and advertisers for additional insight into navigating media options for most effective advertising strategies.

With traditional media maintaining its reach and digital media providing improving return on investment data along with location and behavioral tracking, the landscape for advertisers has become more clouded, less effective than previously hoped.

In our new study, "Advertising Options in the Digital Age", we returned to the national field to determine the current size of audio media.

We also invited a number of advertising agencies to form an alliance for the purposes of providing Bridge Rating key input on the most effective advertising platforms for various advertising categories.

Top Advertising Categories

In 2014 and 2015, Nielsen provided the most recent information available as to the largest ad categories by spend:

Categories of advertisers ranked by dollar spend. For example: Direct Response Advertisers spent $1.2B in advertising spend in 2014. Pharmaceutical companies spent $3.20B.

Despite continued digital options, traditional AM/FM radio continues heavy weekly usage and remains an important component of any advertising strategy.
— Dave Van Dyke, President, Bridge Ratings

The Latest Media Consumption Numbers

Bridge Ratings conducts quarterly field studies to clarify the current state of audio media. In the most recent quarter of data completed in July 2016, we found:

Margin of Error: +/- 1.7%

From a sample of 3334 persons ages 6 and older, 91% had listened to traditional AM/FM radio for at least an hour in the previous week.

78% spent at least an hour in the previous week listening to some form of on-line radio: on-demand (Spotify, Youtube, etc), Pure Play digital platforms such as Pandora, and digital audio simulcasts associated with traditional radio.

18% of the sample spent at least an hour the previous week consuming a podcast.

The Advertising Alliance of 15 ad agencies were interested in determining two data points:

1. Which of the three audio platforms was most effective for each of the top 10 advertising categories.

2. What were the most effective advertising categories for consumer response by platform.  Effectiveness Rating (ER) was based on a consolidated report of interviews with key ad agency buyers rating each medium for effectiveness based on their personal experience.

Advertising Effectiveness By Category & Media Platform

This study is the first of its kind to pinpoint budget distribution for the best platforms for reaching specific advertising categories.

How to read: For the automotive category, Traditional radio garnered the highest effectiveness rating by the Ad Agency Alliance with an average rating of 9.1. Quick-serve restaurant advertising received the highest rating by the Alliance with 6.4 average rating.

The interesting point to follow with the above chart is that despite multiple advertising platforms, traditional radio has been quite effective for consumer response to the advertising for a majority of these categories, with on-demand streaming and podcasting delivering success in very specific ad category silos. This denotes significant progress for these nascent digital audio platforms. 

Bridge Ratings President, Dave Van Dyke notes: "The experience of the ad buyers in the Alliance is that it has taken time for return on investment and consumer response on streaming and podcast platforms to begin to show traction. Nonetheless, this study is the first of its kind to pinpoint the best platforms for reaching specific advertising categories".

Platform Effectiveness

Advertising effectiveness rating by platform. This chart displays the advertising effectiveness ratings as determined by our Advertising Agency Alliance.

The above chart answers the questions put to us by the Ad Agency Alliance: How effective is each audio platform at delivering effective consumer response for the top ten advertising categories.

Podcasting's strengths are: Quick-serve restaurants, Motion Picture and Direct Response.

Streaming's advertising effectiveness points to: Auto Dealership, Quick-serve restaurants, Automotive and Auto Insurance

Traditional radio: Automotive, Telephone services, Auto Dealerships and Department Stores

Together, these three audio platforms provide a blueprint for buyers of advertising. Knowing which platform is most effective at consumer response allows an ad buy to be constructed that focuses on each platform's strengths.

How much of the advertising budget should be spent on each platform is purely a function of the goal of the campaign and the product or service.

One thing is clear, as usage of traditional audio platforms maintains its ability to reach consumers, digital advertising options offer different effectiveness based on strategy. This new study reveals that AM/FM radio, on-line streaming and podcasting can be utilized effectively in a combined three-pronged approach which captures most consumers depending on the product or service.

Based on the data in this report, Bridge Ratings has created a model which takes into account each ad category and each consumer target. Advertising budgets should be adjusted with each category in order to take advantage of the greatest impact.

Methodology: The Media consumption portion of this study is based on a combination of a random stratified national telephone and internet e-surveys combined to create a sample of 3334 persons ages 6 or older who spent at least one hour with at least one of the three platforms: AM/FM radio, on-line streaming or podcasts. 

The Advertising Agency Alliance is composed of fifteen nationally representative professional advertising agencies based in large and medium-sized markets across the U.S. whose ad buying is predominantly national and regionally placed business.