How Salem Media Group Leveraged First-Party Data

December 8, 2023

Salem Media Group participated in the NAB Pilot program with knowledge of the pending cookie-apocalypse and no clear plan to compensate for the change. Prior to joining the pilot group, Salem had deep history of data and email acquisition, given the niche they serve. However, Salem is still lacking a cohesive data strategy. Pilot believes, given their distribution platforms from over the air to over the top, Salem has an opportunity to leverage their in-niche scale to build a strong first party data set delivering a better user experience.


Could they attain more first-party data, lowering the friction to engage vs. requiring more listener information to engage?

What are they measuring?

They tested their ability to use different engagement tools and promo giveaways to see what helped to grow specific data profile segments from both new and existing first-party members testing different engagement paths.

Why did they choose this hypothesis?

They knew that collecting and activating data can lead to a better user experience and increased monetization.

Did their hypothesis change?

Beginning the pilot program, they knew more of what they wanted to do vs. set goals to move beyond the conceptual stage. As they moved the ball forward, their path became clear and they focused their efforts towards what processes would yield better results.


  1. They determined that their data collection focus would be on increasing email addresses, birthdate and gender data points.
  2. They met with the Audience Engagement team and reviewed the targets.
  3. The Audience Engagement team prepared a multi-tactic plan utilizing Salem's portfolio of owned and operated audience.

Who was involved in designing and preparing to execute?

Central to this effort was the Audience Engagement team and digital content managers. Salem Media solicited the support of their local promotion director and marketing coordinators where they existed.

What technology was involved?

  • Station web (including websites and Display network) and social media channels.
  • Email service provider.
  • Mobile app pushes.
  • Leveraged their radio assets and digital stream.

Which vendors played a part?

  • Audience
  • PostUp
  • Google
  • SOCi

Execution and Testing

They found it challenging to find consistency in execution when not a top-down effort.Accordingly, early into the project, they directed their Audience Engagement team to manage the execution across all markets. They have diverse data points inside the company and their different business units use different technology to execute similar tasks. They had to reduce the number of tactics used because of resource limitations due to increased business fulfillment requirements.

Outcomes and Results

  • 6% increase on emails collected
  • 71% increase on gender collected
  • 19% increase on birthdays collected
To be successful, this effort needs to be top down and company-wide. We as broadcasters have the opportunity to leverage our platform to better educate the audience on the benefits and value of data sharing. A coordinated cadence of email, mobile push notifications and social posts helped drive increases in response and the percentage of new members. As a takeaway from our participation, we made the decision to budget a full-time role and began a search for the Head of Digital Audience Growth for the Broadcast Division.


Their testing did not prove that the yield would increase by reducing the friction to engage vs. using incentivization. They believe the unique relationship between Salem and their audience affords more trust when compared that to the general media.

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December 8, 2023