SPECIAL RAB.COM SECTION: BUSINESS UNUSUAL - Focused on today's extraordinary times to provide radio sellers and marketers with the tools you need now.

The ABX "Top Five Radio Spots" Scoreboard

for the Radio Advertising Bureau

For Q2-2020, our focus will be to highlight the ABX choices of the Top Five Radio Ads for each Quarter:

For Quarter 2 2020, 507 English language radio spots were "First-Runs" and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 507, scores ranged from an ABX Index of 142 (which is 42% above the ABX norm of 100) for IHOP to a low of ABX= 67 (67% below norm), for McDonald’s – all from a GenPop audience. Note that any ad may score much higher in its target demographic, such as among drinkers for alcoholic beverages. However, the order of ads ranking against competitors within target audiences usually doesn’t change. As mentioned above, an ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness. Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX now has a new Index of 142. Please see the following for more explanation:

As with the 1st Quarter cautionary note, 2nd Quarter’s are also among the highest radio spots ABX has measured. By April, the COVID crisis had taken center stage. ABX tested more than 600 COVID spots across all media throughout both quarters and found they were about 13% higher scoring than usual, and that even non-COVID ads received a halo effect during that period. ABX anticipates that scores will resume normal trendlines after the crisis has died down.


#1.  IHOP – “Share IHOP’s New Family Feast …” - :15 spot

IHOP Score

(Summary) - “Breakfast or dinner version just $24.99. Under $25, your family of 4 can share your IHOP's favorite now at home, order on URL for delivery or pickup to go curbside.…”

This extremely simple ad hit the market at exactly the right time – just after COVID became an issue and people were afraid to buy food from restaurants.  The ad creative is nothing special except it used clear narration and quiet background music, making the Brand Awareness and Message scores stand out.  IHOP was among the first restaurants to implement new ways to serve guests safely through delivery or pickup curbside.  The resulting ABX Index of 142 is in the top 99.9% of all radio ads, and 53.8% above Media Norm.  A reputation of 240 is extraordinary for radio, and relevance of 184 shows it hit its target market.  A Purchase score of 207 trumped all CTAs, which were scored at 150 and above.   

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads

#2 Arby’s - :60 - “Arby’s six for two every day …”

Arby's Score

(Summary) - “Split AD: New/ARBYRT-2363 – 1st ad: “Looking for a Cool, Creamy and …”: Choose from a Crispy Chicken Sandwich, a Gyro and Beef and Cheddar any two for only $6 every day. Tell your friends, family yell it from the rooftop baby. Arby's our drive thru is open. Disclaimer; 2nd ad: Arby's Orange Cream Shake, back for a limited time.”

The second highest-scoring radio spot for the 2nd Quarter, Arby’s used unusual voice talent and clear enthusiasm to push its new $6 Choice and Orange Cream Shake.  The male voice over sounds like something the old Jazz greats might have said with intonations on unexpected words and an evangelical call to tell all your friends.  The female voice was also good, definitely selling me on trying the Orange Cream Shake.  What is unique here is the Message score of 150, 50% over norm, which shows how effective this voice talent really was.  With such a clear Message, it’s natural to see a high Reputation and Call to Action score.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads

#3  Pizza Hut – “PIZZA HUT NOW DELIVERS PIZZA …” :30

Panera Score

(Summary) - “Order from Pizza Hut's wide variety of beers available for delivery along with all your favorite Pizza Hut items. Order now at URL and Pizza Hut will deliver your favorite pizza items and beer directly to your door.”

This is a clever spot, starting with a "weather report" and then announcing "Pizza Hut now delivers to your door both pizza and beer."  Everything is right in this spot from an ABX Index of 139 to Brand Awareness and Message at 150.  Similar to the IHop ad, Pizza Hut pulls a Reputation score in the 200s. As the announcer says, "When you are home and worried about becoming sick, having pizza and beer delivered is about as good as it gets." 

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

#4. Comcast Cable – “The Coronavirus has Affected …” :60

Comcast Score

(Summary) - “My partners at Xfinity are responding with free Xfinity Wi-Fi for everybody even non Xfinity internet subscribers. Go to URL once a hotspot then you select Xfinity Wi-Fi as the network name and you'll be able to launch a browser and have access to internet for free almost anywhere all over the country. All of their customers will get unlimited data for no additional charge, they'll be no disconnect or late fees during this time. For more info you can log on at URL....”

Comcast delivers a high-scoring, informational spot delivered by a male voice with no sound effects, that deals with giving free internet access to consumers at all hotspots nationwide throughout this crisis.  No data fees will be charged, no late fees, etc.  Comcast is truly "giving" to the community through this offer.  Not only is the ABX Index huge for this radio spot (138), but the Message scored 148, Reputation scored in the high 200's and listeners were ready to act.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

#5. Panera Bread – “The Challenge to Keep Up Panera Bread” :30

Panera Score

(Summary) -  “Panera Bread is here for you, with curbside to go and delivery for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can count on Panera Bread to provide the great clean food you've come to expect from Panera. Order online at URL or on their app and they'll have your carryout order ready or they'll deliver right to your door with contactless delivery. Tagline.”

This is truly a great radio spot.  Soft music background, clear-voiced narrator, and some great word choices in the copy like “great clean food you’ve come to expect from Panera.”  The idea of “clean” food makes me want to eat at Panera.  The narrator also emphasizes all the ways Panera provides food to the listener, through “contactless delivery” for breakfast, lunch and dinner or all three – AND they’ll provide groceries as well.  That’s a lot of service.  Listeners ranked the Message as strong at 138 and Action at 138, but the big score was Reputation at 263.  This is a great example of what a restaurant should do during a crisis period.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

See Below for the KPI Comparison Chart of all five ads

On the chart below, note that bars to the right are positive scores and bars to the left are negative.  So, if you have a “Dislike” score to the left, that’s good – it means Dislike is low.  Here is the key.  Remember, during this quarter, COVID was just starting to happen, but all ad scores were elevated during this time and next quarter.  The ABX Index scores are at the very bottom.  Its much easier to read these in the ABX dashboard than in PDF.

For Q1-2020, our focus will be to highlight the ABX choices of the Top Five Radio Ads for each Quarter:

For Quarter 1 2020, 488 English language radio spots were “First-Runs” and were tested by ABX Advertising Benchmark Index. Of the 488, scores ranged from an ABX Index = 137 (+99% over norm) for T-Mobile to a low of ABX= 73 (-73% below norm), for Jameson – all from a GenPop audience. Note that any ad may score much higher in its target demographic, such as among drinkers for alcoholic beverages. However, the order of ads ranking against competitors within target audiences usually doesn’t change. An ABX Index of 100 is “average” in effectiveness.  Note: the highest Radio spot ever measured by ABX now has a new Index of 137. Please see the following for more explanation:

A note of caution when reading Quarter One’s scores: you will notice how many of the Top Five are extraordinarily high.  This can be attributed to the COVID crisis that was just getting off the ground in early March.  ABX tested more than 600 COVID spots across all media and found they were about 13% higher scoring than usual, and that even non-COVID ads received a halo effect during that period.  Scores got even higher in Quarter Two, which will be out soon. ABX anticipates that scores will resume normal trendlines after the crisis has died down.


#1. T-Mobile – “T-Mobile knows everything’s a little crazy right now, dealing with the COVID Virus …” - :60 spot

IHOP Score

(Summary) - “T-Mobile has ensured all current customers with data plans have access to unlimited smartphone data on their network for two months and they've doubled their powerful 600 megahertz LTE network capacity through partnerships to ensure their customers can stay connected during this critical time plus increase data allowance for school and students in their Empower ED program so students can keep up with their school work. Check out URL to see what stores are still open and how you can manage your account online …”

T-Mobile’s thoughtful, carefully modulated :60 spot ties ABX’s highest tested score so far.  The ABX Index of 137 is 37% above the ABX Index for all ads and higher than ALL ABX ads and an additional 8% higher than the Radio Index.  The key appears to be the announcer, who had a genuine tone of voice, and the copy, which offered tremendous data savings for existing customers, schools and students. No background noise and a brief period of legalese.

Among the KPIs above, Reputation is most notable with a score of 251.  The ad was Well-Liked, considered Relevant, and had huge CTA scores including Contact the Company (287), Go to the Website (189), Recommend (209) and Talk About it (191).  Sensational during the COVID crisis.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads

#2 Taco Bell – “Giving Away Free Doritos Locos Tacos” - :15

Taco Bell Score

(Summary - “On Tuesday March 31 they will be giving away free Doritos Locos Tacos in their drive through. Its Taco Bell's way of thanking their biggest fans and giving them a little TLC with a DLT. No purchase necessary one per customer.”

Like Chili’s spot below, Taco Bell committed the popular audio sin of substituting guitar noise for background music.  However, who can argue with an ABX Index score of 137?!  Or a Brand Awareness score of 110?  Or clarity of Message score of 144?  Seriously, those are out-of-the-box scores, so most people have better ears then mine!  Reputation is so high because of Taco Bell’s generosity in giving away free Doritos Locos Tacos in their drive-through as part of their effort to comfort customers as the COVID crisis was ramping up. Great Action CTA scores such as Purchase at 228 and Look for at 196

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads

#3  Panera Bread - “As so many of us adjust our daily routines …”

Panera Score

“We at Panera Bread are here for you with pick-up and delivery. You can count on us to serve the food you can feel good about serving to your family all while keeping your health and safety our top priority. Order online at URL or in the app and we'll have your carryout order ready for you with rapid pickup or we'll bring it right to your door. Tagline.”

This :30 spot is lovely in its presentation. A female voice-over plays over the gentle guitar music forms a perfect atmosphere for discussing Panera’s healthy and delicious food while weaving the COVID-19 story in and out. Panera is here for us throughout this time with pickup, “contactless delivery,” and whatever else is needed. The scores below are among the highest ever for Radio.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

#4. IHOP – “Get Ready for National Pancake Day …” - :30

IHOP Score

“Tuesday Feb 25th from 7 am -10 pm enjoy a free short stack of pancakes of any IHOP restaurants in the DMV in exchange make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There are 20,000 people in the DMV living with a blood cancer. Join LLS to find the cure by visiting IHOP on national Pancake Day or sign up to volunteer. Call 703# Regional.”

Another positive spot with male voice-over, this time with some solo guitar music.  The scores above show clear Awareness of the brand, clear Message, big Reputation (220) and Action (152).  Additional scores show the segment resounded very well in Relevance and Likability/See Again.  ALL CTA scores were extremely high such as intention to contact the restaurant (324), intention to purchase (198), and Recommend (200).

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

#5. Chili’s – “It’s March and if you’re a College Basketball Fan …” :30

Chili's Score

“Chili's is here to get you into the spirit with an easy slam dunk dinner option. Grab some friends and family and eat a Fajita. Enjoy a sizzling chicken Fajita or juicy shrimp Fajitas, a starter and drink for $10. Limited time...”

No offense, Chili’s, but this is the kind of we preach against since the background noise becomes so loud as the spot progresses that it becomes a strain to hear the announcer.  Having said that, this particular spot overcomes the poor mix by having a terrific announcer who articulates every word so carefully, the spot works.  Nice going.  Listeners identified the Message (3 for $10) at 158 as well as the Brand at 106 and pushed the Reputation all the way to 215.  Listeners thought the spot was Relevant and Likable and the CTA’s included a Purchase score of 207.  See the KPIs below.

Please send me the Creative Reports for Selected Ads.

See Below for the KPI Comparison Chart of all five ads

On the chart below, note that bars to the right are positive scores and bars to the left are negative.  So, if you have a “Dislike” score to the left, that’s good – it means Dislike is low.  Here is the key.  Remember, during this quarter, COVID was just starting to happen, but all ad scores were elevated during this time and next quarter.  The ABX Index scores are at the very bottom.  Its much easier to read these in the ABX dashboard than in PDF.


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