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At a recent client lunch, an interesting conversation regarding differences in generational behavior arose between two 30-something male marketing executives.  Generationally, both guys were Gen Xers but their online behaviors were generations apart.  The 35 year old was highly suspicious of giving out any personal information online for fear of fraud.  The slightly younger guy (age 30), on the other hand, casually said “I give out everything because if someone really wants your personal information, they can find it.”  It was a difference in mindset that to me could be a huge determining factor in the success of a customer acquisition campaign.

We spend a lot of time discussing consumer behavior at The Radio Agency.  For each client, we ask; how does the target demographic consume media?  Is it over the air, on their desktop or via their smartphone?   How do specific demographics respond to advertising offers?  Do they do an organic search first?  Do they prefer to dial a call center to speak to a live person (and you thought there were no “live” people left)?

Usually, we break down the target into demographic segments such as Boomers (47-65), Gen X (30-46), Adult Millennials (formerly known as Gen Y: 18-29),  Teen Millennials (13-17), and iGens (12 and under).  Each group tends to have predictable online and offline engagement patterns throughout the day.  For instance, media consumption research by  Magid Generational Strategies indicates that Boomers, Gen X and Adult Millennials habitually listen to radio more than any other medium (both online and offline) from 6-9am each morning.   For Teen Millennials, the number one medium of choice to spend time with in the morning is music – though not via the radio.

Once we determine how and when to reach the target demographic, the discussion turns to the “call to action,” meaning what do we want them to do?  Many DR advertisers have strong opinions as to how their target audience best responds to advertising.  In general, the feeling is that a “drive to URL” campaign gets lots of hits but a “drive to call center” campaign often yields more SALES, especially if it’s a complex sale!  But sometimes, the response method of choice depends on the generation of the responder.  For instance, Millennials (both Adult and Teen) spend a lot of time researching products and services (online and via social media) before they buy.  So, expecting them to dial a call center (in hopes of achieving a higher conversion rate) may be unrealistic.

Getting back to the Gen Xers above, I’ve concluded that much like horoscopes, there must be such a thing as generation “cusps” where being born on that imaginary line that separates a pair of consecutive generations means you display a blending of behaviors.   And, If that doesn’t explain it, then you must be a Gemini!

Lisa Sable is a Senior Marketing Strategist at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above. Visit our website