LONDON: Using radio in the media mix can improve overall campaign effectiveness by increasing a brand's mental availability, new research has suggested.

Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio, launched its Radio: The Brand Multiplier report, which investigated radio effectiveness, at an event in London that formed part of the IPA's Eff Week. Subscribers can read full details in Warc's report Better audio advertising: How radio can make campaigns more effective.

The hypothesis of the Radiocentre project, based on a framework suggested by Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk in the influential ‘How Brands Grow' books, is that a key aim for brands should be building "mental availability" – reaching as many category buyers as possible rather than only loyal core customers.

Specifically, it looked at Category Entry Points (CEPs) - the thoughts potential buyers have as they enter the category, which a brand needs to attach to in order to be mentally available. Sharp and Romaniuk have shown that brands with a large market share are linked to a broader range of CEPs than smaller brands.

After repurposing TV ads for six FMCG brands in three categories into audio ads, the researchers exposed 3,600 participants to various forms of TV and radio ads.

It found that the average 'network size' of CEPs per band was 3.5 for the group not exposed to any ads related to the six brands. But this total rose to 4.5 for participants exposed to both TV and radio ads for the brands.

Adding audio advertising also increased each brand's share of all CEP associations, compared to its category, from 24% (the control group) to 31% (the group exposed to both TV and radio ads).

When measuring the percentage of people who associate a brand with at least one CEP, the control baseline was 72%. But this rose to 76% for the group shown TV ads, and 80% for the TV-and-audio group.

Mark Barber, planning director at Radiocentre, said: “Radio's got all the right characteristics to be an effective brand-building medium. But not many brand advertisers use it that way.

“You should consider reallocating budgets from short-term activation media to add radio ads to your long-term media such as TV.”

Radio accounts for 22% of the typical media day in the UK. Around 36m Britons, over half of the population, listen to commercial radio each week, for an average of 13 hours. And Warc's own data forecasts radio adspend growth of +1.4% in the UK in 2016.

Findings from the report chime with IPA research released elsewhere in Eff Week from marketing consultant Peter Field and Les Binet, head of effectiveness at adam&eveDDB.

Binet and Field found that penetration and reach is a far more important driver of effectiveness than loyalty: very large business effects were seen in 7% of the "loyalty only" campaigns analysed for the research, a proportion that grew to 22% of "penetration only" campaigns.

Data sourced from Radiocentre/Warc