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Cross-Platform Advertising Packs Punch

A media mix that includes radio can be more powerful than print-only campaigns. This according to a major study from the Radio Ad Lab.

RAL compared the effects of two television ad exposures to the effects of only one television ad plus two radio exposures. We also did the same thing with newspapers—comparing two newspaper exposures to one newspaper ad plus two radio exposures. In this controlled, lab-style test of advertising synergy, the results were striking:

  • Swapping out one of two TV ads for two radio ads increased unaided brand recall by 34%.
  • Replacing one of two newspaper exposures with two radio ads almost tripled unaided brand recall.
  • When two radio ads replaced one of two TV exposures, more people chose the advertised brand as their first-choice product. The newspaper swap-out was even more striking.
  • And consumers that heard two radio ads (and only one TV ad) could restate a campaign’s main message just as well as those exposed to two TV ads. Trading a newspaper ad for two radio exposures gave much better message playback than seeing two newspaper ads.

  1. The Implications

  2. For advertisers, we believe this study is valuable from several perspectives:

  • We already know how valuable radio can be as a way to reach people that are missed or underserved by other media. This study now suggests that radio may be undervalued as a way to affect consumers that are reached by television and print.
  • While radio can often be a potent alternative to other media, the current study provides more reasons to consider using radio as part of the media mix (as long as radio’s pres- ence in the mix is heavy enough).
  • And as suggested by past studies on imagery, this study provides further evidence of radio’s ability to communicate an advertiser’s message and have it received, remembered, and played back by consumers.


  1. For broadcasters, we think the implications are clear, too:

  • On an ROI basis, radio is more than a supplement.
  • A combined television-radio or news-paper-radio buy is demonstrably more powerful than one using TV or newspaper alone.


The Results

By virtually every measure, the replacement of one of two television or newspaper exposure with two radio exposures resulted in equal or better effectiveness.

Brand Name Recall

The test cells that included radio, generated significantly better top of mind recall and total recall for the test brands than exposure to only the television or print advertising (two exposures). See Figure 1. Here, the question was, “Please tell me all the names of the brands or products that you can remember being advertised either during the television programming or during the drive.” Of course, there was a comparable question for the newspaper groups.

On an unaided basis, the group with two radio exposures generated a third more brand recall than did the TV-only group, a statistically significant difference. Significant differences in this direction occurred in four out of five product categories.

The difference was even more dramatic in the newspaper groups, where the use of radio almost tripled the amount of unaided recall. This pattern was replicated in every one of the five product categories.

Even with aiding, the radio cells showed more recall (see Total Brand Recall in Figure 2). The use of radio added 15% to total recall compared to television alone (a statistically significant difference). And the difference compared to newspaper alone was a dramatic and statistically significant 103%.

Impulse Brand Selection

Both before and after the ad exposures, we presented the respondents with a booklet which included the question, “If, today, you were going to purchase a product or utilize a service in each of the categories featured in this book, which would be your first choice in each category?” The use of this exercise before and after the test allowed us to measure any brand preference shifts that could be directly attributable to the forced ad exposures.

The results from the radio groups were almost as striking as in the recall sections, showing pronounced shifts in brand preference as a result of moving exposures into radio.

For the television comparisons, only 5% more respondents chose our test brands as their first choice after exposure to two TV ads. But the respondents receiving two radio exposures (instead of one of the TV exposures) showed an 8% shift in first preference, a finding that was close to statistical significance. This tendency for the radio groups to show more shift in brand preference occurred for four out of five brands.

Again, the newspaper comparisons were even more striking. Those receiving two newspaper exposures showed no positive shift in brand preference after the test, while 6% of the radio-exposure groups shifted toward preferring our tested brands. That’s a statistically significant finding, occurring in four of our five product categories.


The findings of the study are clear. In this testing environment, the switch from two television or two newspaper exposures to a mix including two radio exposures yielded significantly better measures of effectiveness on almost all scores, especially:

  • Unaided recall
  • Aided recall
  • First-choice brand selection


The bottom line: Given all the historical research showing radio’s ROI advantages and given how striking some of these new findings are, we think the pattern is clear. Radio has demonstrable power, particularly when used in combination with other media.


For more information call (028) 312-2314 or mail

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PO Box 79, Kleinmond 7195

T: (028) 312 2314

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