Checking Radio Advertising Results

We  suggest a number of ways to check the results of radio programs. I put them forth, however, as rough and ready, not mathematically accurate guides.

Nor do I wish to imply that these methods can be substituted for creative radio ability and sound advertising and broadcasting judgment. It is pretty well understood, I suppose, that radio advertising cannot be run with a slide rule; it is apparent that changes in entertainment and music and listening habits are about as frequent as changes in women’s hats. What we found out in 1931 may be a poor guide in 1932.

We are discussing two kinds of radio results: listening results and sales results. The two may or may not parallel each other. Because your radio program gets a wide listening doesn’t mean that it is making heavy sales. Getting people to listen and getting people to buy may be vastly different things.

There is an established service for checking listening results which should be mentioned here—the Crossley Listening Reports. Agencies and advertisers have in these reports the results of periodic, thorough and extensive surveys of the listening preferences of the radio audience. They are made primarily for the members of the Association of National Advertisers, but they are available to any one on the payment of a fee.

These reports are a cooperative effort to learn what programs people listen to, in the cities and in the out-lying areas, in the morning, afternoon and evening. Thousands of set owners are asked what programs they listened to the day before. The answers must be specific to be recorded, and the questions are in no way leading. Answers from every district are tabulated, sent to headquarters and issued in periodic reports. A sub-scriber, therefore, has the opportunity to learn whether a program is increasing or decreasing in popularity. The tabulating is as nearly scientific as statistics in radio can be. The result gives that proportion of listeners you actually get out of those you might have gotten if all the sets in your area were tuned into your program.

Some advertisers feel that no such method can be scientifically accurate. Probably it cannot be. The point is that the results are doubtless relatively accurate. In all probability these results enable you to learn periodically whether your listening is going up or down; the relation of your summer audience to your winter audience; the effect of daylight saving time on your listening; how you stand in relation to your competitors—and the answers to thirty or forty other questions. There may be other similar devices offered, but they have not come to my attention.

The following methods for checking by the individual company are suggested as feasible for the average advertiser able to support any kind of widespread radio effort.


One large advertising agency wanted to know more about morning listening habits. It got hold of an experienced woman investigator with an appealing smile and a fine personality and told her to go out and gossip with several thousand women. When she announced her errand at the door, a large proportion of the women said, “Come right in and sit down.” They wanted to talk about radio and they did at great length. They talked about what they liked and what they didn’t like, and why. They talked about their housekeeping habits in relation to their listening habits. They talked about their husband’s listening habits and the listening habits of their sons and daughters and sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. What the advertising agency found out is confidential, and anybody else who wants to do what they did would probably find out as many valuable things as they did.


One manufacturer has had a daytime program that has been running for about two years. Every six weeks regularly he offers either an exercise chart or a diet chart. He offers these two because they are sure-fire reply-bringers. He keeps a chart of the replies received. They give him, he feels, a pretty fair indication of the ups and downs of his listening.


A manufacturer of a packaged product is able, by the nature of his selling, to isolate his sales, section by section. His advertising prescription is about the same for all sections with the exception that some sections have the one added ingredient of radio.

Periodically he compares radio and non-radio sections. The actual sales figures give him, he feels sure, fairly accurate guides to the effect of radio on his sales.


This is simplicity itself, and one manufacturer believes accuracy itself. In six different points of the country he periodically puts a battery of girls to work on a battery of telephones. During the period his program is on, they call up homes. The girls ask two questions:

“Are you listening to your radio?”

“To what program are you listening?”

This costs money. The manufacturer says it has been worth it.


Numerous tabulations are being issued on favorite stations. If your program is on Station A in Chicago, and Station A has twice the listening of Station B, that means something.

Caution: Look at favorite station tabulations with a suspicious eye. Ask to see the questionnaire that got the information. Check the tabulations.


Consumers seem to be more vocal about desires inspired by radio than desires inspired by other forms of advertising. Lots of people come into stores and say, “I heard about so-and-so over the radio. Have you got it?” Dealers, being largely radio listeners themselves, seem to remember these comments. Some time ago an antiseptic company announced its product over the radio. Previously they had supplied most dealers with three bottles. An advertising agency sent investigators around the next day to see if the first radio announcement had been effective in removing the first stock. The results were amazing. The program which went on at seven o’clock had, in many places, cleaned out the preliminary stock by nine o’clock.

Maybe your dealers can tell you something about the selling results of your radio program.


A manufacturer with a new radio program is planning to run a certain contest during the first week of every month. The terms of the contest will be identical each week.

Taking into account rather well-known variations in summer and in cold weather listening, he expects to, have a periodic and fairly accurate check on the size of his audience.


A manufacturer spends about $400,000 in magazine advertising and has done so for years. This is his only advertising effort. He is considering taking $100,000 of this and putting it into radio but he wants to know in advance whether the new prescription will be better than the old prescription. He plans to put his program, a relatively inexpensive daytime program, on one station and watch sales for six months. He expects a fairly conclusive answer.

Another manufacturer about a year ago received a striking demonstration of the effectiveness of a certain type of morning radio talk. He had a group of stations up and down the Pacific Coast. One small area, however, was dead. To please a favorite salesman and against his better judgment he ran a regular morning talk on this small station. The salesman in his enthusiasm announced a special combination price offer in a certain large store. (This is something that couldn’t be done over a chain.) The radio station was about half an hour by car from the store. At the conclusion of the talk the salesman rushed back to the store to find that the twenty-five special assortments he had personally packed had already been sold out.

A drug company maintains a few stock-checkers. For years these stock-checkers have worked in the following manner :

They would go into a town in which a trial newspaper campaign was about to break. They would carefully check the stocks in a selected group of stores. They would take a comparable town near-by and do the same thing. Then, for a period of weeks they would check the stocks in the advertised and non-advertised town. This same drug company is now contemplating a radio campaign. They are following the newspaper checking procedure in similar towns. As they will be on a chain, the nature of their hook-up has forced them to select as an unadvertised town one a thousand miles distant from the advertised town. This should give a measure of the sales effectiveness of radio.


One radio advertiser periodically offers a coupon redeemable at the grocery store. He keeps a chart of results. This chart is a guide to his audience.


One research man has considerable evidence that house-keepers can remember, say for two months back, pretty accurately when they changed over from one product to another. He checks the effectiveness of radio in this way:

He calls on say five hundred women in a non-radio town. All the women are in about the same economic class. He asks, “What brand of `X’ do you use? When did you start to use this?”

He calls on about five hundred similarly situated women in a radio town. He asks, “What brand of `X’ do you use? When did you start to use this brand?”

The advertising prescription in general is the same for the two towns with the exception of radio and increased recent usage in the radio town indicates the effectiveness of radio.


In one middle western town a newspaper has for many years made an annual survey of the home usage of many branded advertised products.

Assuming you have a radio program in this town and lack a radio program in a somewhat similar town, their annual check should give you some light on the effectiveness of your program.


Those who are interested in the effects of radio are referred to several businesses which have grown rapidly on a diet exclusively of radio.

There is a well-known company in a highly competitive field which started out with a small appropriation on one radio station. In about three years they have grown from a small company to a large company. The only form of advertising they have ever indulged in is radio. They have no doubts of the effectiveness of radio.

If yours is a new company, or a company which has never advertised and you are interested in radio advertising, about the surest way to find out whether or not it is effective is to buy a little, use it and watch your business.


A manufacturer was on a farm network. There were no reports of farm listening. He wanted to check his pro-gram. He sent out a questionnaire, listing about twelve well-known and little-known programs. His program was sandwiched into the middle. He got a fairly accurate gauge of the interest shown in his program relative to the interest shown in other programs.