01 June 1997

A TWELVE WEEK TEST is under way on six Capital Southern radio stations to collect and evaluate data on direct response to advertising. The initiative, Radio Direct, provides advertisers with a single response number across all six stations. The incoming data is analysed by a number of criteria: elapsed time between the listener hearing the ad and responding; the number of times an ad needs to be heard before a response is elicited; and the relationship between listener volumes and number of impacts. The trial is being managed by Capital Sales & Marketing, the hybrid formed by the recent merger between Capital Sales and MSM. Kerry Wilkinson, who developed the project for CS&M, says the objective 'is not to see how direct radio works, but to look at different markets and different products and see how radio can work for advertisers. Our principle reason for the test is to build a model for direct marketers which does not exist at the moment.' If successful, the test will roll-out to other areas. More research on direct response radio, this time a joint effort by the DMA, GWR, Classic FM and BT. According to the report, spend on direct response radio (DRR) is over £100m annually. Other key findings are:
65% of radio ads carry a direct response telephone number;
10-second commercials achieve the highest response rate, when used as a call to action following an informative spot earlier in the commercial break;
Responses occur very quickly after the ad, on average within five minutes - far faster than DRTV where response peaks within 15 minutes;
The most effective responsive ad slots are in the early evening;
The weekend is the most ‘response-efficient’ period of the week;
Most radio campaigns are cross-media, ie combining TV and radio, such campaigns producing the best response rates.

The report also contains a set of best practice guidelines to increase DRR campaign response:
Make the phone number easy to remember;
Tell the listener when the call is free;
Make it clear when to call;
Have a strong offer;
Establish offer with at least four opportunities to hear;
Establish brand in listeners’ minds through frequency;
Spread campaign to include evenings and weekends;
To achieve maximum response use short spots in combination with longer information spots.