A team of ad salesmen at Clear Channel Radio has brought measuring the effectiveness of radio advertising out of the dark. Using a set of variables, account manager Dan Granger and three colleagues can determine the response an ad brings in from listeners and then make necessary changes to reach the most listeners. Granger calls the process audiolytics, borrowing from a term for measuring the response rate to online advertising, web analytics. By being able to go back to their clients and say this number of people called a toll free number or that number of people used a discount coupon those businesses can better compete against the Internet that has taken so much advertising away from traditional media like radio, television and newspapers. For much of the job of the sales team still requires them to show that radio is still relevant and can offer something that other advertising methods cannot, namely the endorsements by national talk show hosts. “You can build an empire on this kind of marketing,” Granger said, sitting in a conference room on the fourth floor of the Pinnacle Building in Burbank where Clear Channel has its offices. Granger started applying this process to ad clients in 2008 and has now been able to determine that it is working. That year he had no more than six accounts; in January he expects to have 17 accounts. The variables In optimizing the ads, the variables considered include the time of day the ad runs; the frequency of the ad; the offers that get made with the ad; and the length of the ad (15 seconds vs. 30 seconds vs. 60 seconds long). For a toll free number the prefix should be 800 and not 888 or 877 to avoid confusion. And a business shouldn’t use a phone number that spells out a word. “The cleaner numbers bring in a better response,” Granger said. Knowing the response rate for radio ads is most helpful for small- and medium-sized businesses keeping a close eye on their cost-per-acquisition for a customer. On that list of accounts are LegalZoom, the online legal document service co-founded by Robert Shapiro; the Betty Ford Center; and Reputation Defenders, a service that can delete personal information from the Internet. A law firm that bought a one-week test buy for $8,000 was able to track the results, make changes and then grew the account to where the buy was $44,000 a week at its peak. In 2009, this law firm spent $1.5 million in radio advertising, Granger said. Pro Softnet Corp. in Calabasas is the newest business to use the audiolytics process when its ads start to run next year. The online backup storage firm does primarily Internet marketing and wanted to try something offline to see what the return on the investment would be. The company had been in contact with Clear Channel once before but never followed through with an ad campaign, said Chief Operating Officer Shweta Sachdeva. By using radio, the firm hopes to reach a different audience as online marketing brings in people who are actively looking for backup storage. “With radio we would seek out users to come and try the online backup,” Sachdeva said. Radio advertising revenues reached a peak of $18.2 billion in 2005 and have been steadily declining since then, according to BIA/Kelsey, an advisor to media companies. Revenue rise In 2009, revenues were $13.3 billion and were forecast by BIA/Kelsey to rise this year to $14 billion. By 2014, revenues were expected to have rebounded to $16.4 billion, according to the firm. Radio remains an important part of the advertising mix because of its ability to reach all demographics. Radio is still a viable medium is the story that Granger and his ad sales team tells every day. A big part of radio’s appeal is that its most popular talk show hosts endorse product and that can give a big boost to a small business’s product. Tax Resolution Services Co., based in Encino built its success on radio advertising having started out on KFI AM 640, owned by Clear Channel. Endorsees include Fox political shouters Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. And where would identify theft protection service LifeLock be without the endorsement of conservative host Rush Limbaugh. “When you add in audiolytics, tracking and optimization to this kind of selling you’ve got something very powerful that can change a business,” Granger said.