For the majority of radio ads, Ts&Cs aren’t an issue. But long and complicated Ts&Cs become problematical for three reasons:
Firstly, lengthy Ts&Cs cost money in additional airtime, or at the very least they leave less room for the ad itself and restrict creativity.
Secondly, they “switch listeners off” (see figure 1), and can even negatively affect brand perceptions.
Finally, and most importantly for regulators and company compliance or legal teams, when the Ts&Cs are too long they fail to do the job they are there to do in the first place, which is to ensure listeners make informed choices on whether to act or not.
Over a number of years, Radiocentre have commissioned a lot of research into the effectiveness of Ts&Cs on radio. The focus has been on financial information, but the same general principles can be applied to other sectors. Further information can be found here, but below are just some of the reasons why long and complex Ts&Cs on radio fail to hit the mark on consumer protection:
- 98% of radio listening is in real-time, so Ts&Cs read out on air have to be heard and processed there and then
- Consequently the vast majority (over 72%) of listeners would prefer to read Ts&Cs in their own time where they have a better chance of absorbing and understanding them.
- Over 60% of listeners (and 70% of 18-24s) believe the terms and conditions are merely there to protect the advertiser, so they just zone out and stop listening.
- Recall of figures can be particularly problematic and a challenge for sectors such as finance, motors and telecoms. When important figures are embedded in long and complex Ts&Cs, recall is less than 4%, even immediately after listeners have heard the ad, and, worse case, can drop to zero when radio listening is accompanied by other tasks (9 out of 10 listening occasions).
However on a positive note, research also demonstrates that when Ts&Cs are reduced to focus on critical information only, the likelihood of listeners recalling important figures can treble or even quadruple.
The challenge for advertisers and their legal or compliance teams is how to comply with the rules to ensure listeners are adequately informed, but in a way which doesn’t overload the listener and render the Ts&Cs ineffective.