According to a January 2018 post in Chief Marketer, over 70% of marketers in the U.S. used influencers in their 2017 marketing plans and 95% found it to be effective. Many thought leaders reported that influencer marketing is one of the most effective methods of advertising available given the low cost, high engagement and improved targeting abilities.  According to a recently released ANA white paper, 43% of ANA members are planning to increase spending on influencer marketing in the next 12 months.  And according to a study from ANA and PQ Media, total brand spending on influencer marketing is projected to reach $101 billion by 2020.

Today, the way in which influencer marketing is defined and discussed in the media (ad trades) and in research (above), is a marketer’s ability to utilize social media personalities and digital content creators to feature products and services through authentic, native storytelling, primarily on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat among others).

These influencers are retained by a marketer to share relevant detail about his or her experience of the product or service through photos, audio, video and text among their loyal, engaged and highly segmented followers.

The way in which this definition differs from yesteryear’s definition is that it is based on social media as the distribution platform, leveraging new social media stars that have created huge followings and have achieved great success in influencing results for brands among their digitally focused fan bases.

The purpose of this piece is to shine a spotlight on a segment of influencers that originated the concept of influencer marketing and native advertising – the on-air radio personality.  There are over 25,000 thousand on-air radio personalities across the country who are local, national, one-to-many, person-to-person influencers that drive conversation.  These personalities are also referred to as talent, DJs, jocks, influencers, experts, journalists, real people and friends by their loyal listeners and marketers who have leveraged them.

These influencers include names that you know like Ryan Seacrest, Delilah, Ben Shapiro and Scott Shannon, and names that you may or may not know (depending on where you live) like Nessa, Kirk Minihane, Eric Ferguson, and Nikki Nite.  In fact, many social influencers that you hear about, read about and perhaps follow are also radio personalities.

Not only do 56% of listeners state that radio talent is the main reason they tune in, but 37% of music listeners say that one of the things they like most about listening to traditional radio – and that adds to the enjoyment of the music – are the DJs. 

According to a recent Katz Media survey that used their proprietary “Our Media” consumer panel, it was found that:

  • 87% of radio listeners are intimate with personal details about the DJ’s home life.  
  • 5 out of 10 radio listeners follow a DJ or radio station on social media.
  • 4 out of 10 people have met a DJ personally in their community.
  • 8 out of 10 panelists say they’d consider trying something that their favorite radio personality recommended.

Several case studies where marketers have leveraged radio station personalities to endorse their brands have proven the effectiveness of the strategy, ultimately providing direct attribution to the power that radio and its personalities represent.  Case study highlights include:

  • When a major telecommunications company executed an integrated radio campaign through the Katz Radio Group that leveraged the power of local radio personalities both on-air and in social media, the brand saw a massive lift in earned media, up over 66%.  They saw 30% more store traffic than non-endorsement markets and their website traffic was higher than any other month of that same year.
  • A national cable television network found that people exposed to radio influencer messages tune in at a higher rate than those that were not exposed. 
  • In analyzing effectiveness and attribution data for a utility company’s radio campaign, Katz Radio Group helped the client to understand how radio drives online engagement and search activity for the brand.  The results proved that DJ endorsements performed 21% better than the campaign average, generating 36 new users per spot airing.

In the age of outcome where it is a requirement for media to demonstrate proof of accountability and attribution for the dollars marketers invest, leveraging radio’s personalities and the relationships they have with their followers is a smart and solid bet.