August 3, 2020

What do Milkshakes and Audio Have in Common?

By Tim Murphy, EVP, Corporate Business Development, Audacy

Weird question, right?  What could a milkshake and audio content possibly have in common?  Turns out the two are much more alike to consumers than you might think, and this truth can greatly impact advertiser ROI.

The late, great Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen told the story of McDonald’s winning consumer insight that makes the connection between milkshakes and audio content. Some years ago, McDonald’s was struggling to compete in the milkshake category. They knew they had a quality product. Market research didn’t reveal anything lacking in ingredients, taste, or other key features. When they stopped focusing on the constitution of the product itself and asked a different question, researches stumbled upon a fascinating insight that paid huge dividends for the product and marketing teams. They asked milkshake consumers, “What job are you hiring the milk shake to do?” As it turned out, milkshakes kept people engaged during long commutes or job shifts. The best milkshakes for them were a consistency that lasted a long time and was not too filling so that it kept them occupied over a period of time. Donuts, soda, bananas, chocolate bars – none of them quite met the mark. Once the consumer benefit was clear, McDonald’s positioned the product and marketing to win. To listen to Clay Christensen’s story, watch this video.

The audio content industry has adapted to the market in a similar way. Like milkshakes, people employ audio content to engage them while their eyes and bodies are otherwise occupied. Driving, waiting in line, folding laundry, cleaning the house, taking public transit, exercising, doing yard work, paying bills are just a few of the prime listening moments. And with a low barrier to audio content production and ubiquitous wifi access, a whole new world of audio content options has become available above and beyond terrestrial radio and owned music. Simply turn on a radio, give a command to a smart speaker, or grab the phone and insert ear buds to access news, sports talk, music, DJs, and podcasts.

With so many options and portable access to audio content, it’s no wonder time spent listening is on the rise. Edison Research Share of Ear® study reveals a solid lift in time spent listening1.

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The experience when a consumer “hires” audio content is intimate and hyper engaging, and the ads they are exposed to break through and stick in the consumer’s mind. The important key to successful audio advertising here, much like with McDonald’s milkshakes, is being relevant to consumer needs in the nooks and crannies in their daily schedules they’re filling with audio content.

A nutrition bar retailer sought to drive increased online sales and meet or exceed a $3 Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). Through a custom-created marketing campaign on RADIO.COM, the brand received extraordinary results.

20,000+ website visits from RADIO.COM listeners exposed to their ad campaign, at a cost per web visit of just over $1

6,000+ online purchases from ad-exposed listeners

$10 ROAS – More than 3X campaign goal

Taking a page from Professor Christensen, Audacy has adapted to create various content to fill the expanding list of jobs for which consumers employ audio. For example, in addition to continuing to produce award winning, live and local radio content, Audacy now makes that content available in bite-sized chunks on demand. Listeners can also tune in to long form interview podcasts with luminaries and taste makers, like Andrew Yang and Brené Brown. Short form local news podcasts, like 1010 WINS All Local, keep communities informed and up to date, while investigative journalism podcasts by award winning journalists, such as Patrick Braden Keefe’s Winds of Change, allow listeners to dive deep into the story.

On the lighter side, humorous podcasts geared toward a younger demographic, like Ear Biscuits, offer a lean-back listening escape. And let’s not forget, ‘tis the season—political insider content from the ultimate presidential race observers, like David Axelrod and Mike Murphy, keep audiences abreast of the latest developments and opinions. No matter the job listeners are hiring for, Audacy audio content can fill it, and advertisers reap the benefit of aligning with content relevant to the moment and emotion while the listener is tuned in and open to receiving the message.

So, to go back to the initial question, milkshakes and audio content both make the perfect companion to so many daily activities. But unlike milkshakes, you can consume as much audio content as you want without a single calorie.

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1 Edison Share of Ear, comparison of May vs Q1 2020
Tim Murphy, EVP, Corporate Business Development, Audacy

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