Six of the last seven commercials I heard on a Portland radio station included the phone number for the Maine small business who had paid for the advertising. In several of these commercials, the phone number was even repeated twice. Studies suggest that including phone numbers in radio ads is probably not a good idea.
According to research published in the New York Times and the London Daily Telegraph, 9-out-of-10 people forget a phone number within 5 seconds of hearing it. The study goes on to reveal that 70% of people cannot remember their best friend's phone number and 50% cannot remember their parents' phone numbers
This inability to remember phone numbers is a result of a relatively new phenomenon called "digital amnesia." It seems, as we become more reliant on personal technology to remember things like phone numbers for us, we employ our own memories less to preserve that type of information.
In other words, our brains have become hardwired to depend on our smartphones, tablets, and laptops to remember information and to find phone numbers. As a consequence, we no longer invest the cognitive resources necessary to store this information in our brains.
Phone Numbers Take A Toll On R-O-I
So, from a dollar and cents point of view, including a phone number in a radio commercial may not deliver a positive return-on-investment. Here's why:The typical commercial on Portland radio comprises 160 words. If a commercial costs $100, then that means a commercial cost 62-cents per word. So the cost of putting a 7 digit phone number in a radio commercial is $4.34 each time the number is included. Since research indicates that hardly anyone will remember it, that makes putting a phone number in a radio commercial a poor choice for a Maine small business owner to make.