Personalised Radio Adverts

Radio Advertising attempts to divide and rule

Yes, pre-recorded Personalised Radio Commercials have been the talk of the advertising business for the last few years, and are rapidly being promoted as the Brave New World that will crush us like so many VHS rental shop owners if we don’t look sharp and get with the programme.

You must have experienced them – you’ll (usually) be browsing the internet or listening to streamed music, and suddenly the next ad is saying your name, your approximate location, and the fact they noticed you had been looking for an awning/lithium ion drill/holiday cottage recently.

You can get them on your local broadcast radio station too – but they’re a bit more clunky. You probably only get a vague reference to the city/town you’re in, whether it’s breakfast/lunch/teatime, and/or if it’s hot or cold.

The idea is that the more you personalise something, the more relevant it is - and so the more engaged you will become with it. And that’s where the problems start…

Firstly, you’ve got to be 100% accurate. For instance, I’m known to everyone I meet as Paul – but my first name is actually Christopher. So when we get people calling the office to speak to ‘Chris’, my colleagues know that (a) it’s not someone who knows me, and (b) their over-familiarity around shortening my name immediately puts them in the ‘chancer’ bracket.

Secondly, you’ve got to be relevant. If I’m thirsty for a coffee, telling me what specific meal-time I should be enjoying it in doesn’t help – and telling me what town I’m thirsty in doesn’t help either – I just fancy a coffee from the nearest vendor whether they’re geo tagged or not.

Thirdly, trying to pose as my personal assistant – my constant companion through life’s struggle to find Health Insurance etc – does nothing to make me feel special. It’s just creepy and intrusive, and gets me reaching for my security settings before I’ve even heard the robot’s pitch.

Finally, where’s the humanity? Would cinema be better if the main cast kept shouting your name? Would your favourite bands be better if all their songs were about you? Are ANY shared experiences enhanced by splitting up their participants and addressing them privately?

Sorry I’m digressing – we’re here to talk about radio ads aren’t we? But the same objections apply. I LOVE radio because as a listener you’re always an individual – but you’re also part of a community. If you hear something you love or loathe, YOU provide the word of mouth commentary – the scathing review, or the wholehearted recommendation. It’s the joy of joining the dots, and the innocence of a medium where you’re still the one deciding if something is relevant to you or not.

So here’s my verdict on Personalised Radio Commercial. If you REALLY want engagement, response, word of mouth recommendations and good old-fashioned money in the till – you don’t have to do it by producing a thousand ads and finding a thousand people to play them to. You create compelling ads that resonate with people (plural – and lots of them), and make them all feel like they should be part of your gang. Great ads are great because they can be shared.

Having said that, if you want to spend a load of money recording every variation on your next ad’s target audience, Get Carter Productions is the radio production specialist that offers a truly wonderful service!

Cheers, Chris.

P.S. If you want to hear how we created one of our most engaging radio campaigns, have a look at my Van Monster blog