Why winning cash still drives radio ratings

Radio stations have been giving away cash for decades but is it a successful incentive for listener loyalty asks Jason ‘Jabba’ Davis.

In November last year Sydney’s 2Day FM used a $m cash giveaway to promote the second installment of the Twilight movie franchise. The competition was called Kyle and Jackie O’s Million Dollar Dawn Dig and gave a lucky winner the chance to dig up cash at Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

According to Nielsen figures, during that survey period, the station clocked up an impressive 1,003,000 weekly listeners over the age of 10. 

I’d make an educated guess the promotion would have covered a significant portion of the $1million prize, even if they weren’t insured against there being a winner.

On air, the notion of giving away an enormous sum of cash has a bigger flow-on effect. It makes the station seem generous and would generate a large volume of off-air conversation. As a stunt itself, the dig for cash received widespread media coverage.

Out of all the giveaways I’ve been involved with on radio, the opportunity to win cash drums up the best result.

The gimmick has also crossed over into the world of breakfast television where large sums of money are regularly thrown at viewers.

I asked WSFM’s Brendan ‘Jonesy’ Jones – no stranger to giving out dough to listeners with his largest personal handout $37,000 during his time at Triple M – for his thoughts on whether cash giveaways are the best way to attract and keep listeners.

“Huge amounts are good, but it really comes down to the mechanism. Have a good mechanism and it doesn’t matter about the prize, although a family apple pie from the local service station sounds povo,” says Jonesy.

Can creativity triumph over cold hard cash in keeping consumers tuned to their radios? With the current economic climate, cash is probably a better incentive.

Jason ‘Jabba’ Davis is a media personality with 15 years radio and TV experience.

This feature first appeared in the July edition of Encore magazine. To download it for free from the App Store, click here.



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