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Taco Bell Aims Digital Radio Plays at Mobile Consumers

March 18, 2015

Juliet Corsinita
Vice President, Media and Brand Partnerships
Taco Bell

Taco Bell is no stranger to digital radio. Juliet Corsinita, vice president of media and brand partnerships at the quick-service restaurant chain, spoke with eMarketer’s Rimma Kats about the strengths of digital radio and what has worked for the company when marketing in that realm.

eMarketer: What is Taco Bell’s approach to advertising on digital radio?

Juliet Corsinita: Taco Bell studies how consumer behavior has evolved to include both terrestrial and streaming radio options. Streaming audio provides consumers with recent and relevant messaging as they move throughout their day, when other media is not accessible.

The consumer experience has also evolved from traditional radio to include custom and curated experiences, as well as on-demand listening. We’ve conducted media attribution modeling with Spark Communications, our media strategy partner, and identified that audio contributes independently to driving Taco Bell sales vs. other media channels.

eMarketer: What are your main objectives when you advertise on digital radio?

Corsinita: We know that our consumers are on the go, and digital radio helps reach them with appropriate messages. This helps us build frequency and recency when customers are making their meal and snacking decisions.

eMarketer: Can you walk me through a specific campaign that was successful for you?

Corsinita: iHeartRadio was a key part of Taco Bell’s 2014 breakfast launch. The Taco Bell sponsorship extended across all iHeartRadio properties—terrestrial and digital—to help drive trial and awareness of our new breakfast menu.

“Taco Bell’s focus is on the mobile consumer. We’re interested in devices that assist and facilitate the mobile consumers’ access to the music and audio content they love.”

To extend Taco Bell’s association with emerging artists to the iHeartRadio audience, Taco Bell and iHeartRadio hosted “Breakfast with a Rockstar.” It was hosted by iHeart personality Mario Lopez and featured Feed the Beat band A Great Big World. Because of iHeartRadio’s scale, the content from “Breakfast with a Rockstar” was pushed out to nearly 400 local station websites, as well as iHeartRadio.com and onwithmario.com.

The overall event exceeded our expectations in terms of reach. It achieved 37 different Twitter trending topics, with 80% of posts coming from millennials. The partnership married a large live event, on-site activation, a strong integration and vignettes across iHeart terrestrial and streaming stations, and included a live stream—components not included in more conventional media buys.

eMarketer: Has the mix of ad formats that you use on digital radio changed over the years?

Corsinita: We’ve seen the creative formats evolve from audio to video to custom playlists, first-impression mobile interstitials, high-impact units and in-car and other custom integrations.

eMarketer: Some digital radio platforms are becoming ubiquitous on everything from cars to connected TVs to refrigerators to wearables, not to mention smartphones and tablets. How much do you take into account the device mix when you advertise on these services?

Corsinita: Taco Bell’s focus is on the mobile consumer. We’re interested in devices that assist and facilitate the mobile consumers’ access to the music and audio content they love.

eMarketer: Are you planning to spend more, less or the same on digital radio in 2015 compared with last year?

Corsinita: We are increasing our investment to follow consumer demand. We’ll always invest in the places and spaces where our customers are spending their time.

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