How to Track Radio Advertising - 11 Different Ways to Track Performance (and the best way)

by Intrasonics Team

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There is no denying how powerful an advertising medium radio still is. It can certainly offer an exceptional ROAS (return on ad spend).

RAJAR (radio joint audience research) recorded around 36.3 million people in the UK listened to commercial radio weekly in 2020. That doesn’t even include the BBC radio stations who themselves get 33.5 million weekly listeners.

If you want success either with just a one-off tester campaign or wish to include radio advertising into your long-term marketing plans, you need to think about how you will measure the results.

Besides providing you with tangible outcomes from your campaigns, monitoring can also allow you to see how best you can optimise your future radio campaigns.

So, how do you do it? To give you some ideas about the various techniques and methods used by different organisations and companies, we will highlight some of the most popular.


With over ten years’ worth of experience, we utilise our unique audio watermarking and audio matching methods that are fully compatible with all essential platforms independently, including radio.

With the watermarks embedded into advertisements, our clients can identify and track the exact source and the medium used to transmit it.

We can track this down to when you published the exact content and which medium or source distributed it.

While Intrasonics technology is admittedly one of the more expensive ways to track, it’s also one of the most robust and accurate.

Giving you benefits that the other methods don’t, such as:

  • Our watermark technology is platform-independent and is compatible with all broadcasts and digital streaming, including radio.
  • Our watermarks easily survive audio compression
  • Watermarks are inaudible to humans and animals
  • Robust - one of the few solutions that allow for watermark detection through background noise
  • Fast ID - watermark is detected in seconds
  • Works for live content and matches live audio quickly and exactly
  • No internet required for detection

For a free demo, reach out to a member of our team and try our technology today.

Ipsos MORI Gold Standard MediaCell Application

Ipsos MORI helps media companies offer radio and audio content to understand and leverage the size, composition, and flow of audiences between various stations and platforms.

This data feeds into decisions on how best to maximise audiences with compelling content and promote specific programmes to high-value listeners.

The data is also used for trading advertising inventory between media companies and media agencies buying on behalf of marketers.

The Gold Standard Ipsos MORI MediaCell application detects audio via an Intrasonics watermark inserted into the audio stream at the source and/or using the Intrasonics fingerprinting technology (sampling snippets of audio and matching them to a reference database).

In both cases, the technology can determine the source, time and location of exposure at a very granular level.

Combining these two data streams allows Ipsos to capture listening to live and time-shifted audio content on any device, whether via headphones or not, and Ipsos MORI can report at the level the market requires, down to the minute by minute level.


Using Google Analytics

You are probably thinking that we have gotten our wires crossed here when writing this post, as Google Analytics is a tool generally associated with tracking websites’ activity.

However, most people don’t realise that you can use it to track your offline ad campaign results.


Organic Name, Direct Traffic and Annotations Name Mention Traffic

If you have a call to action at the end of or at any point during a radio campaign that states something like “find more information at” and see a spike in direct traffic to your site, then you can give some credit to your radio campaign.

You can also identify that your radio campaign is responsible for some traffic if they have used specific names and characteristics that you have mentioned in radio adverts.

Some people still run searches on businesses even if they know the exact URL.

However, you’ve probably spotted one issue with this approach, that your website has probably already been getting direct traffic before you even started your radio campaign.

That is where annotations can be handy.

Within Google Analytics, if you select Direct or Organic Search from the Channels menu in the “All Traffic” section of the main “Acquisition” menu, you can get an average of the amount of organic to direct traffic you receive regularly.

Clicking on the small downwards arrow beneath the timeline displayed will give you the Annotations menu.

Within this, you can select a date, enter a note, and then click the save button.

A suitable note in this instance would be “Radio Campaign starts” on the date it started.

Landing Pages and Redirect Domains

Another handy way of tracking your radio ads using Google Analytics is by creating domains that are created with the specific purpose of redirecting visitors from your radio ads to custom landing pages on your site.

For instance, you could use a similar domain as your main site with an added location or another slight difference that means your brand is still recognisable to the visitor.

You could even incorporate something that points to the radio station your ads are going out on to make it feel more personalised to the visitor.

Feature them in your radio campaigns and then have those domains redirect to your site’s specific customised landing pages.

You now have a place that you know people will only have come to because of your radio campaign, which can help you track the progress of those ads in Analytics.

Note: remember that many visitors will still just put your company into Google, rather than just typing your URL directly, so be sure to use this technique in conjunction with the other Analytics method we mentioned.

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Compare the Results of Matched Samples

One of the issues with tracking radio advertising is that often consumers will misattribute their memories from radio advertising to other forms of media, in particular television.

Misattribution often happens when both forms of media have a strong execution link and if there is an existing and effective history of advertising on television for a brand.

One way you can overcome this is by offsetting the misattribution. You can do this by using matched samples of non-listeners and listeners.

Using this method, you can tell if there has been an increase in awareness among listeners or non-listeners.

If it is the former rather than the latter, the effects can be rather confidently attributed to your radio campaigns.

Even if your listeners believe it was another form of media.

Compare Results Across Different Regions

Suppose you are looking to assess your radio ad campaign’s effectiveness regarding particular outcomes for your business like sales or response.

In that case, it is better to compare the data taken from regions that received the radio advert and regions that didn’t.

For these to be effective, these must have matching profile populations and exposure to all media forms.

Ideally, you should compare the data taken from both regions for three months before you start the radio ad campaign. This gives you a base level to compare.

The baseline can then be used to compare how things changed once you started the ad campaign.

Through Connected Devices

Although it was and still is where they are used to track and assess the effectiveness of radio ads on an analogue radio, with digital radio, there are new avenues to learn about how audiences interact through the devices connected to them.

For example, you have a relevant product for office workers, and you are looking to target them.

You can choose to place advertisements on the radio stations that are more likely to be played in offices, like Heart, Absolute and Radio X.

There is also a way you could utilise on-demand services like Deezer, SoundCloud and Spotify that are often available on digital radio receivers and produce adverts to put out on those platforms.

These contain tracking options that you can use to help tie your visitors’ first interactions to your campaign.

Early Indicators of Successful Campaigns

Though more basic than some of the other methods we have looked at, watching for early indicators of a successful campaign may suggest people, are responding, even if you can’t pinpoint from where they are coming.

These early indicators that you should be aware of include:

  • Increase in search volume. We have touched on this under various sections in this post, but it is still an effective, if flawed way to track your ads’ progress. For instance, if you see an increase in the search volume for specific keywords mentioned in your ad (you can check this in Google Search Console).

  • Increase in site traffic. Another method we have discussed already that is still worth keeping in mind that goes along with the increased search volume; you are likely to see an increase in the traffic to your site that can be attributed to your radio campaign.

  • Better quality traffic to your site. Not only are you likely to see an increase in the amount of traffic to your site, but you should also notice a change in the quality of the traffic. Suppose the traffic is a result of your ads. In that case, the quality may be better, which will mean there is a reduction in the bounce rate because normally, visitors looking at your site due to your ad campaign will come with higher interest and actual purchase intent.

  • Increased Buyers - Increase in the rate at which site visitors become paying customers.

Attribution Tools For Tracking Ads

There are attribution tools you can use like Analytic Owl to track the impact of your radio ads.

These can track recent visits to your site in as little as 8 minutes after your radio ad airs.

It is easy to sort what traffic results from search engine marketing (SEM) and your radio ads’ effect because SEM already comes with attribution measures built into it.

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Using Timing to Monitor Ads

Although site traffic and gross sales are practical ways of knowing that your radio campaign is successful, you need more.

If you are likely to have sales and interest over a specific timeframe without radio ads, this becomes even more important.

What you can do is establish a baseline of what your regular sales look like without the help of radio ads and then compare it to a specific period where you are running radio ads.

Timing is one of the more simplistic methods and naturally leaves room for inaccuracy.

Customer Surveys

It may seem a little obvious and on the nose, but sometimes when you are trying to assess radio ads’ success, you need to ask your customers directly.

An effective way to do this is to create a survey for your target audience to determine how many of them heard your ad.

Then use that figure to work out how it affected your sales figures for the period where the radio ad was running.

Again, this method will only paint a partial picture, especially if you don’t get maximal customer participation in the surveys which is a common issue.

Summary of the Best Way to Track Radio Ads

Although it may seem a little overwhelming at first and difficult to figure out, as you can see, there are many different methods for tracking your radio ads’ success.

Some are more effective than others, and the method you use may depend on the available budget you have for tracking your campaign.

Intrasonics audio watermarking and matching technology may be one of the more costly solutions. Still, we pride ourselves on the accuracy, detail, and ease-of-use of our audio watermarking technology to track your media advertising campaigns.

For the most robust radio ad tracking solution, it’s difficult to beat Intrasonics technology for accuracy, reliability, speed, compatibility and robustness.

To get a free demo, reach out to a member of our team and try our technology now.

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