Clear Channel/L.A. Launches New Ad Tracking Service
All Access Net News Spotlight
October 15, 2010 at 3:18 AM (PT)
CLEAR CHANNEL RADIO/LOS ANGELES Account Executive DAN GRANGER has created and leads a virtually independent arm of the sales staff whose goal is to improve radio marketing by giving advertisers a better idea if their radio campaigns are working or not. The four-member team includes GRANGER, GARY BROWN, GEORGE BOWEN and JUNO COLE.
Their new intelligence-gathering service compiles data about consumers who respond to ads by using call-in numbers, coupon codes online and website landing pages. This provides their clients with in-depth and detailed information on who is listening and who is buying, where they are responding, why and how.
The practice of how to get the data to measure or optimize a campaign using case studies going forward is a process everybody should be aware of and utilize.
In this ALL ACCESS Net News Spotlight, DAN GRANGER explains the genesis of his ad tracking system..
What initially inspired you to come up with an effective ad tracking system?
I got tired of people telling me that radio didn’t work. It was hard enough to get them to try it, to lose them shortly after was catastrophic. I was almost fired several times my first year at CLEAR CHANNEL due to poor sales performance. Toward the end of my first year in sales, I was so close to getting fired that I was taking interviews for backup opportunities. The same week I started interviewing, we had market-wide One Day Sale for Q1 advertisers that would test radio during our slower weeks. I showed up and closed seven new pieces of business in one day. I thought, “If I can just make these deals stick, I have a base that can launch my career- now what do I do? Problem was, I didn’t know how to write copy or run a campaign. Out of the seven accounts I picked up to test for one week, none of them came back. Not one.
So I set out to learn how to make ads work. Far and away, most cancellations are due to lack of measurable performance. I read everything I could find about the subject. ROY WILLIAMS’ "Wizard of Ads" trilogy changed my life. He talked about his methods of finding the story that each company has to tell and how to structure an ad so it has a chance to perform.
Things started to pick up and I soon found myself leading our market in Direct Business. So I hired a guy named GEORGE BOWEN to help me. He’s very analytical and much better with details than I am. We knew we wanted to create some case studies to demonstrate radio’s success. But the traditional method of calling your clients and asking how their ads are working is not the path of least resistance. You’re in the dark because, frankly, they may not even know themselves how well the ads are performing, even if they will tell you. So we started offering our clients exclusive phone numbers to use in their ads, allowing us to track the calls and find out how it’s working and what we can do better. We’d be more nimble and know when to optimize or change things before they tell us. We can also keep the client in the loop rather than vice versa.
So you set up a vanity phone number, so anyone who called that number could've only gotten it from the client’s spots...
That’s correct. Customers will find ways to contact a business other than just the number we use in the ad, but it’s a pretty good barometer of how an ad is performing.
One of cool things about what we are doing is that you can log in and see the calls in real time, or get an e-mail notification about how many calls there were, where they were coming from and everything about that. You get to look at so many different variables.
These days, we typically use numeric toll free numbers, rather than vanities, which is a phone number that usually spells a word. Vanity numbers don’t necessarily work for people who have BLACKERRIES. We found you can do better having an 800 number with a repeater, such as 1 (800) 777-2424, or 2244. Those types of numbers always increase response. This kind of measurement helped us learn things that were transferable to future campaigns.
Is this also part of those ads that have discount codes using the air personalities’ names?
That’s another way to do it. But that’s normally exclusive to personality endorsement campaigns. Testing the phone number is one way, monitoring a discount code on a website is another way. Sometimes the phone number can be a distraction when you’re looking for online purchases. We have a client we work with called REPUTATION DEFENDER, which uses a dedicated landing page. That way, in the spots, we don't tell them to go to their home page reputationdefender.com, but to the landing page myreputation.com. The thing is, a lot of people would hear the name of the company and automatically GOOGLE the name, ignoring our desired conversion path. So we make allowances for such wayward customer traffic when establishing expectations.
With respect to discount codes, another thing we found from working with LEGALZOOM.COM is that when you give listeners a directive such as type in "PETROS" (PAPADAKIS), (JIM) "ROME, or "DAN" (PATRICK) in the referral box, the number of people that actually follow those instructions only account for about one-third of the actual revenue it produced. If an order for $100 comes in under "ROME," the total income generated from that personality approaches $300 in sales.
How receptive have potential clients have been to this new data?
Initially, they’re all from the "Show Me" state. Sometimes they still don’t believe our case studies on our new business calls. Once we prove to them that we can deliver measurable results and grow their business, building the brand becomes an afterthought.
All they ask is, "What’s the ROI? If we spend this money; how much profit will we receive?" Fortunately, we’re tracking results from a dozen other companies. So we can often share real-time results we achieve for other clients, provided they are not operating in a competitive space.
We have data on how we’ve optimized each variable of a campaign, one at a time. One advertiser can get twice the response advertising a given product in middays rather than the common thinking that drive time is always best. We measure the different response rates between 30 and 60-second ads. When we can show them how they can reduce their cost-per-call by 25% -- and have case studies to prove it -- it’s very compelling.
I receive e-mail notifications on my phone after each call is completed, particularly when we have a new account. Imagine how persuasive it is to walk into a prospect’s office and show them dozens of calls rolling in during our meeting for other accounts as we sit and talk. That’s how the BETTY FORD CENTER became radio advertisers for the first time in their 25 year history. We showed them real time results for another client. A lot of people still don’t believe radio can work; they think it’s outdated and obsolete or, at best, a branding vehicle. They don’t realize that radio can dramatically change their business for the better.
What do you feel is better in the long term, building a station's brand or ROI?
I believe in branding; I just wish I had the luxury of acquiring clients whose primary interests are building their brand. It never happens to me. Everyone wants know what they’re going to get for their money,
Here’s what I tell them about branding; There are customers who are going to call you today and just as many who will call you later. Branding generates interest from those who will call you later, so we have to set client expectations with an assumption that future business is going to happen -- and there’s a lifetime value beyond the immediate ROI. If you factor that into your calculations, you find a good message and say it over and over again for a year, you’ll start to create a brand that will reach the most people.
The problem is most of our clients will run out of money and patience to achieve that if we don’t give them results today. We’re dealing mostly with small to medium-sized businesses that need to quickly show sales to justify whatever they spend.
Have you contacted the RAB with what you're accomplishing here?
I haven't reached out to them and they haven't talked to me. There have been no conversations.
How much of what you're doing is proprietary and how much are you willing to share with others for the benefit of radio in general?
I’m happy to share our story because it’s good for radio. I’ve not been given directives on what to share or not share by management. I think we have uncovered best practices that everybody should be utilizing, but we do live in a competitive world. We do need to have some discernment about how to disseminate our information, but the practice of how to get the data to measure or optimize a campaign using case studies going forward, that’s a process everybody should be aware of and utilize.