How Audacy’s Influencers Helped an Online Privacy Company Grow Business

By Idil Cakim, SVP and Head of Research & Insights, Audacy

Amid a flurry of recent online data breaches and the growing threat of hackers, many Americans want digital security. Internet privacy provider DuckDuckGo offers tools to safeguard online privacy, including a private search engine, a tracker-blocking browser extension, email protection, and app tracking protection. While its product is in-demand, DuckDuckGo’s challenge was to win over users from other search engines and browsers. 

To expand its user base, DuckDuckGo turned to Audacy for innovative solutions. The company wanted a marketing campaign to build brand awareness, engender trust, and motivate users to download and install its app. That’s where Audacy’s Radio can be a game-changer. 

Embracing the DuckDuckGo challenge, Audacy activated one of its most powerful assets: Its trusted and influential local radio personalities. When it comes to persuading consumers to try a new product or service, there’s no one better suited than local radio hosts. Many Radio personalities are beloved, trusted members of their communities, and those strong bonds are an asset to any advertiser. When hosts suggest a product or service, audiences lean in. 

The on-air, host-read campaign delivered on DuckDuckGo’s objectives and demonstrated the power of Radio to make meaningful connections with audiences and influence their behavior. 

The Challenge: Persuade Users to Take Action

While DuckDuckGo’s earlier media campaigns successfully raised brand awareness, the company wanted to convert its growing profile into user action. Their objective for a new marketing effort was to compel consumers to download and install its app and explore its products. 

Persuading new users to try a new product is a tall order for any technology provider, but DuckDuckGo’s mission was even more ambitious. DuckDuckGo needed to convince users to switch from other search engines and browsers to its platform and offer assurances that consumers’ personal data and web activity would remain private to win over consumers. That pitch required something more intimate than a typical spot campaign.

The Solution: Leverage Radio’s Trusted Hosts to Motivate Users

To help DuckDuckGo effectively present its services, Audacy leaned into influential local Radio personalities. Radio audiences have strong bonds with their favorite hosts, and Audacy determined that host-read on-air endorsements would be the most appropriate activation.  

For many listeners, Radio stars are part of their daily rituals, along for their morning commute or afternoon drive, while they work out and do chores. Also, many local radio hosts are active in charities and events in their hometowns. When these influencers endorse products or services, audiences often trust those recommendations and lean in.

Audacy ran over-the-air endorsements in seven markets over ten weeks with ten female and male hosts in Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. 

Audacy encouraged its influencers to speak directly to listeners about DuckDuckGo like family or friends, and each host crafted custom messaging in their style and voice to appeal to their listeners. 

Audacy’s hosts had to strike the right tone with a topic as sensitive as privacy. To determine the best style and delivery, Audacy tested the creatives using a neuro-based attention measurement. It then used that information to fine-tune messaging and evaluate what garnered listeners’ attention. 
According to the attention study, the most impactful messages were personal and urgent. When hosts talked about their experiences with security and privacy and used a theatrical or urgent tone, the spots resonated best with listeners. For instance, in one message, an influencer talked about their family’s struggles to maintain privacy, and that resonated strongly with consumers, scoring a 77 on the immersion1 scale compared to an average of 54.

Additionally, Audacy identified keywords that sparked attention or turned listeners off. The words “track” or “tracking” piqued the audience’s attention, while mentioning a key competitor by name decreased engagement.

Armed with this intelligence, Audacy’s influencers were able to fine-tune their endorsements and create messaging that generated higher engagement with listeners and moved them down the funnel. 

The Results: Trust Compels Listeners to Take Action

Inspired by their trusted influencers, many listeners responded by interacting with DuckDuckGo’s products. After the campaign aired, DuckDuckGo reported increased awareness, engagement, and user activity across the consumer behavioral funnel. (DuckDuckGo suspended all other marketing efforts during that time, providing a clean slate to measure the campaign results. 

Notably, app installs increased significantly during the campaign, resulting in 60,000 new downloads. Installs in multiple markets, including Philadelphia and Baltimore, exceeded the campaign norms.

DuckDuckGo’s data scientists compared the campaign results to the advertiser’s benchmarks, revealing an increase in downloads and installs directly attributable to Audacy’s Radio campaign.  

Source: DuckDuckGo Brand Lift Study, Veritonic, 2023. Increases indicate percentage point lifts.

The campaign’s performance was strong across crucial consumer groups and brand KPIs. Among listeners who said they were extremely and very concerned about online privacy, DuckDuckGo’s brand effect study (conducted by Veritonic) reported double-digit gains in awareness, favorability, intent, and recommendation. Among consumers 25 to 54, intent jumped 26 percent, favorability increased 34 percent, and recommendation increased 33 percent.

Once again, Radio proved it remains a powerful asset in marketers’ toolkits. Audacy’s on-air endorsements successfully gave DuckDuckGo a lift in awareness and engagement. Radio influencers helped DuckDuckGo establish credibility, build trust, and earn new business. 

Changing consumer behavior is a marketer’s biggest goal – and most challenging problem. That’s even more complicated with a sensitive topic such as privacy or security. Brands like DuckDuckGo need credible, influential partners in a crowded marketing landscape, and Radio offers strong bonds, consumer trust, and inventive ad solutions.  

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1 Immersion is a measure of attention and emotional connection. It’s based on a scale of 0-100. The higher the score, the deeper the immersion.

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