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Business case studies No 205 - 02.02.2018

In today’s digital world, consumers’ path to purchase almost always includes using a search engine. “Radio Drives Search,” the new study conducted by research company Media Monitors in association with the Radio Advertising Bureau, proves that advertising on radio drives a 29% incremental lift in brand online search results. Radio can play a pivotal role in influencing a consumer’s path to purchase, as they continue to learn about and shop for brands and products across a multitude of devices.

The background

While not all advertisers and brands measure campaign success based on web search, many do. That is why RAB and Media Monitors decided it was important to understand radio’s impact on the search journey and not just qualify but quantify it. The RAB commissioned this research and it was conducted by Media Monitors, Sequent Partners, and In4mation.


The analysis was based on more than 2,100 local radio ads for eight brands across six categories (automotive, e-commerce, insurance, retail auto aftermarket, retail jewellery and wireless communications). The study was conducted from June to July 2017 and included 31 PPM markets. Google Search data, specifically Google Trends and Google Ad Words, provided the actual minute-by-minute search volume for given search terms (i.e. brand name, product names, etc.) including common variants and misspellings.  This data was then matched to the radio spend data by brand, market, date and daypart. All brands experienced organic search without the aid of marketing, therefore all lifts noted in this study were a lift from the organic search “baseline.” Radio activity was overlaid onto the baseline search data. Where the data indicated radio spots aired, the model detected incremental search activity for the advertised brand.


Radio generated an average 29% lift in Google search activity. The greatest search activity from radio ads came during AM drive (33%), followed by middays (32%), PM drive (29%) and evenings (13%). Search as a result of radio advertising is greater on weekdays versus weekends — 47% of the searches took place on weekdays and 11% on weekends. Every brand showed incremental search generated by radio, the top-performing advertiser — the jeweller — saw a 370% lift in Google searches for their brand, while the lowest — a national automaker — had a 7% increase.

According to Media Monitors three primary factors drive research searches: campaign effectiveness, the overall campaign spend and the likelihood of baseline searches. Creative also makes a significant difference. The five factors that most help drive search are price deals, new product or new product features, mention of specific locations, offers not related to price, and personalisation - addressing specific audience segments. Factors that are less associated with driving search are: driving listeners to a specific URL, humour and drama, and storytelling. This study underscores the critical importance of developing good radio creative for a very important reason – to aid in an advertiser’s web activity.

One of the brands included in the study used both radio and TV in their campaign, the results showed that radio drove 228% more search than TV in total and dollar for dollar. Radio improves search as both a stand-alone and as a complementary medium.

While the lift in search may vary by advertiser and category, this research clearly shows radio’s impact on digital behaviours and activities, and the medium’s relevance in a digital and e-commerce world.



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