Vanity Number Recall in Radio Advertising | White Paper | 800response

Telephone Number Recall in Radio Advertising

Recall Rates of Consumers Using a Variety of Telephone Number Combinations in Radio Advertising


Effective use of toll-free numbers has produced numerous business success stories. Vanity toll-free numbers — telephone numbers that spell words or phrases — are a common response tool in many advertising media, including print, direct mail, outdoor, television and radio. Previous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest consumers retain toll-free vanity numbers better than “hybrid” or numeric numbers, increasing the response rate of ads that include vanity numbers.

This study focuses on the recall rates of consumers using a variety of telephone number combinations in radio advertisements. The results show listeners are nearly six times more likely to remember a pure vanity number versus a hybrid combination of vanity and numeric (such as 800-639-STUDY).


Vanity 800 numbers were recalled by nearly 60% of the subjects of this study after only one exposure to a radio advertisement, and over 95% of the subjects recognized the 800 exchange as toll-free. The newer toll-free exchanges (866 and 877) were not widely recognized by subjects of the study as being toll-free numbers. Even the 888 exchange was not recognized as ‘toll-free’ by 20% of respondents – and only 18% of respondents knew that 866 was a toll-free exchange. The recall rate for non-vanity numbers was extremely low.

The results of this study confirm the value of vanity numbers as an advertising response vehicle, particularly in the context of radio advertising, and also demonstrate the degree to which consumers still associate ‘toll-free’ with the 800 exchange.

For the full research study report, please send your request to [email protected].

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