A Case Study Radio Versus New Media, which Do You Think Won?


In February, March, and April, our agency ran an ad campaign for one of our clients designed to see what media would send the most traffic to their web site.  We ran a three-month campaign on five radio stations and on a video network in six supermarkets covering approximately the same geographic area as the radio stations.


The advertiser was a furniture store offering an on-line gift certificate for $25 when anyone went to their web site and put in a key word unique to each media.  The objective was to:

  1. Determine if people respond to these media
  2. How well do the various radio stations and the video network perform
  3. The cost per response from each media
  4. Get people to subscribe to their e-news letter


One media we did not plan to test, but got tested anyway, was the Internet via Twitter and Facebook.  We thought this might happen when the radio stations realized we were tracking the responses from their stations.  We tracked the response using Google Analytics Event Tracking which told us every time anyone clicked on the Gift Certificate on the client’s site, and what keyword they used.


The stations we used were a Pop Music Station, An Adult Contemporary Station, A Country Station, a Talk Station and a Soft Rock/Easy Listening Station. On the first day, the Country and Soft Rock stations each sent one person to the site.  On the second day the Pop Music station sent 37 unique visitors, the Adult Contemporary sent four, the Country sent two more, the Soft Rock sent one more and the talk station sent one more, and the video network sent one visitor.


The sudden appearance of 37 visitors from one station in a matter of hours told us something else was going on.  So we opened our Tweet Deck™ to see if anyone Tweeted the key word information.  We found the Pop station’s morning personality did indeed tweet to his 133 followers at the time, to go to the client’s site and put in the key word for his station.  We then checked Facebook and found the same personality sent the same message to his approximately 1,300 Facebook followers at the time, but this time included a direct link to the client’s site.  We then checked Google’s source tracking and saw, of the 37 visitors they sent that day, 11 came directly from Facebook and three came directly from people at the station.  Since no direct link was included in the Twiiter message, we cannot determine how many of the other 23 hits were sent as a response to the radio spot or other sources.  But time will tell because we set the site up to allow each visitor to register only one time.


While it was nice of the Pop station personality to send all those people to the client’s site with Twitter and Facebook, and show us how powerful internet advertising is, it did not show us if running spots on his station was able to send any visitors.  It was interesting that the Soft Rock Station and the Talk Station which are sister stations to the Pop station only sent a total of three visitors the entire three months.


The Tally for February

By the end of February, the first month of our survey, this was the tally.

Pop station – 16*

Adult Contemporary – 7

Country Station – 7

Video Network – 3

Soft Rock Station – 2

Talk Station – 1


*In addition to the three visitors sent directly from people at the Pop station, 16 more hits came from people at that station in February for a total of 19 visits from people at the station.  We subtracted that along with the 11 hits from Facebook.  Of the remaining 16, we cannot determine how many of those were sent by the radio advertising or another source such as Twitter.


Here’s the Tally for March

Country Station – 7

Pop Station – 5*

Adult Contemporary – 4

Video Network – 2

Talk Station – 0

Easy Listening Station – 0


*Of 16 visitors for the Pop Station, Google showed us that 11 visitors came from people at the station leaving only five that are not necessarily suspect to rigging the results.


Here’s the Tally for April

Video Network – 7

Adult Contemporary – 2

Pop Station – 1*

Country Station – 0

Talk Station – 0

Easy Listening – 0

*Of the five total visitors, four came from people at the station, leaving 1 as the only visitor not necessarily suspect to rigging the result.


What did we learn?

We learned that the Internet has the ability to get a quick response at no financial cost.  But before you get excited, consider how many hours it takes to get 1,300 friends on Facebook and 133 followers on Twitter.  Then, once you get the friends and followers, what does it take to get the credibility or popularity to get them to respond? While it appears the Internet outperformed radio, radio can take credit for the large following and credibility of the Pop station personality.


In conclusion, there are many ways to build a large following.  But one effective way is to use mass media.  Since every person that put in a key word on our client’s site also signed up for the client’s e-news letter, the client ended up getting 139 new e-newsletter subscribers that he can reach out to again and again plus about 20 customers directly in the door to redeem the coupon they got.


A footnote. Only after the survey was almost over, we realized we could have recorded on each certificate, what key word was used to get the certificate.  This would have enabled us to see which media reached persons who would actually redeem the certificate. This is something we hope to do again soon and will include that information when we do.