It’s been said that a fundamental human need is to “be heard,” and the same can be said for the brands we represent. Is there anything more frustrating than carefully positioning a message, and never really knowing whether it’s heard? “No,” of course, but marketers in today’s communications environment don’t have to settle for putting something “out there” and hoping for the best. The rapidly expanding radiosphere – among other channels filtered through our mobile devices 24x7x365 – has changed all that.

With the emergence of – and increasing preference for – Internet “music discovery” services like Pandora , Spotify, and iHeartRadio, terrestrial radio advertising has a rival in getting information into the right listeners’ ears. When you consider that of the 7 billion people on earth, 6 billion have a cell phone subscription (that’s 1.8 billion more than own a toothbrush), the opportunity to connect is massive. But that doesn’t mean we should take this as an opportunity to mass market.

For brands targeting audiences with radio spots it wasn’t that long ago that there was an assumed risk of waste when it came to radio spots. While there was a good chance that someone “out there” in the listening audience would respond to an ad, there was an even greater chance that most would not, given that the audience target was…well, not that targeted.

But Internet radio advertising is inherently more consumer-focused than its terrestrial counterparts, both in how it serves listeners and in how it markets to them. For example, when subscribers create  stations on Pandora, the company employs an intuitive approach to delivering selections: its Music Genome analyzes the musical structures – not the genres, or the ratings – of the songs users like, and plays other songs that carry similar musical traits. It doesn’t make assumptions about the listener based upon superficial song characteristics, it aims to “know” the listener based upon what he or she is intrinsically attracted to.

 

This intimate, relevant listening experience created by channels like Pandora is the same reason users consent to listen to Internet radio ads: the ads actually connect with their lives. eBay Selling Assistant’s Pandora ad campaign – which is routed through users’ chosen device, whether desktop, or tablet or smartphone –  validates the power of “extra-terrestrial” advertising as an important consideration in the advertising mix.  With this service, sellers contact eBay Selling Assistant to schedule a pick-up of the items they wish to sell on eBay. eBay takes the items, lists them and pays the sellers upon purchase.

The program’s trucks are able to provide scary-fast turnaround on pick-up requests, because eBay Selling Assistant’s Pandora ad campaign enables the identification of Pandora users (and would-be sellers) by zip code, as identified through user log in information. This same information allows eBay Selling Assistant to advertise its service to geo-discrete audiences at the precise times its trucks are in their locales, slicing away the excess coverage brands receive when they purchase entire terrestrial-radio DMAs.

It’s a simple ad play. And, perhaps, deceptively powerful. The personal connection that mobility creates introduces an opportunity for advertisers to create engagement in ways never before possible with customers. But the key is for brands not to simply view mobile as a new channel through which to speak to consumers, it’s using mobile as a tool to enhance the user experience. In the case of eBay Selling Assistant, an Internet radio spot was used to keep scheduling – and, ultimately, customer satisfaction – on track. What’s more is there’s a clear link between the ads and operational value in terms of logistical and cost efficiencies to the business.

But for marketers, this isn’t an Internet and terrestrial battle – think of it more as a partnership. Pandora on its own is great, but there are undoubtedly target consumers that don’t listen to Pandora. Overlaying a terrestrial ad campaign on top of an Internet one, as eBay Selling Assistant does, provides air coverage. Terrestrial radio offers a unique mix of frequency and reach that can place the promoted service in front of the consideration group as needed over the course of the campaign. If anything, brands might be looking at doing smaller terrestrial campaigns to fill demographic gaps, but in recognition of the ROI an Internet radio campaign investment drives.

There’s life out there, on those airwaves. And we delight in helping the brands we represent discover it.

Is Internet radio a component of your marketing mix, and if so how are you leveraging its ability to hyper target audiences? And if it’s not, we’d love to know whether it might be the next frontier for your brand…share with us below.