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The Ultimate Guide to Radio Advertising

Radio advertising is a fantastic way to grow your business, increase your brand awareness and generate sales. If you are interested in finding out the fundamentals to radio advertising, and learn ways to conquer common challenges such as how to choose the correct station, the costs involved, which radio advertising formats will suit your brand or how to simply begin the process, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide to radio advertising, we are going to equip you with information that will ensure you cover all the bases to ensure success in your radio advertising journey.

What is Radio Advertising?

Radio advertising is buying commercials to promote products or services. Advertisers pay commercial radio stations for airtime and, in exchange, the radio station broadcasts the advertiser’s commercial to its listening audience. As a business owner, how can you take advantage of radio advertising? How do you get your target audience to hear your radio ad message and follow a certain call to action?
In radio advertising, there are numerous types of commercials that an advertiser can choose, similar to how brands might pursue different print advertising options (newspaper vs. magazine, for example) or online advertising options (email vs. social media). Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular types of radio advertisements.

Live read

What are the Different Types of Radio Advertising?

There are various types of radio advertising that you can choose from. By identifying and explaining the various types, you are able to gauge which would suit your specific advertising campaigns needs best.

Radio Live reads

A live read is when the radio personality/ DJ reads out your advert live on air. Listeners are already familiar with the radio personality’s voice and they are more likely to engage with the advert. Live reads also help your brand stand out from the rest, shining a spotlight on your message.

Radio Sponsorships

This type of ad is for those that are looking for a subtle approach to their radio advert. You can choose to sponsor news, competitions, sports, traffic or any of the regular programming on that particular radio station. Let’s look at some advantages of sponsored adverts:

  • Engagement
    The main advantage with a sponsorship advert is the high engagement; especially when it’s a sponsored competition where listeners are encouraged to call in to partake and stand a chance of winning cash prizes or other forms of rewards.
  • Reach
    Sponsored ads air first in the commercial break in most cases, which means your advert will reach more listeners before they switch stations. But it isn’t often that people change stations, as most listeners tend to be loyal to a particular station.

Radio Jingles

“Ba da ba ba ba, I’m Lovin It!”
You guessed it, McDonalds. Case in point of how a great jingle stays memorable and the listener can easily identify what the brand is. The fact that you read that with your eyes and your mind played the jingle in your head based on memory is just amazing wouldn’t you agree? That connection between music and memory is almost guaranteed, which is why most people gravitate toward this type of radio advert. Ever notice how even the annoying jingles just get stuck in your head and you find yourself humming or singing it throughout the day? The power of radio advertising.

Radio Testimonials

There is something reassuring about hearing other people’s experiences with a particular product or service. Testimonial adverts are exactly that; people giving a real-life account of how they found your product or service. As humans, we feel more comfortable trying something new if someone else has tried it before, because in our minds we know that advertisements are made with the sole intention to make something appealing for you to buy into it. Using testimonial adverts makes the audience more receptive and adds credibility for the brand.

Personified Commercial

Like storytelling, you want the listener to create the whole picture in their minds, get their imagination working. Adding characters that are relatable helps them connect with the story and makes them want to find out what happens next, which means they will have to stay tuned in. Example, a couple is on a road trip, they pull up to a McDonalds drive through and they are discussing what they will order. The voice over artists need to deliver perfectly on the execution, in order for this type of advert to be effective.

Straight Read

This type of radio advertisement usually focuses on the advantages of the brand that is advertising, important information such as how listeners can get in touch with you, address or email or phone details and is generally in a monologue format.

Radio Headphones

Why you Should use Radio Advertising

Radio is trustworthy, listeners develop a bond with these radio personalities, they are with them in the mornings on their commute to work, and in the evenings on their way home from a long day. They become that trusty companion and taking advantage of this through advertising can bring great results for a brand. As a business owner, you might be planning your new marketing strategy and looking for ways in which to increase your brand awareness and sales. Traditional methods of advertising have started to be overlooked due to common misconceptions. Fortunately, we are able to advise on why you should look at radio advertising to achieve your advertising goals.

How Radio Advertising works for your Business

  • Radio advertising makes your business memorable
    Due to the frequency of a radio ad playing a number of times throughout the day, week, or month, the ad becomes memorable to the listener, and results in your business being top of mind.
  • Radio ads give your business a personality
    Radio ads use one sense; the sense of hearing, which means the listeners have to use their imagination to create a picture of what they are hearing. The better your script is, the easier it becomes for the listener to see the story in their minds and see the personality of your brand in that story.
  • Results in action
    Radio advertising continues to prove an excellent medium for reaching audiences through its high penetration levels and repetition, and because radio ads have a high call to action they generate excellent consumer recall.
Radio Equipment setup

Is Radio Advertising Still Effective?

Radio advertising reaches a large, targeted audience. Depending on your chosen station or stations, you are able to effectively reach your targeted demographic.

Cost effective

Considering the lower investment cost when compared to TV and print advertising, statistics show that Radio yields an exceptional return. If you consider the cost of one prime print advert on the front page of a daily newspaper, or the huge cost of even 1 TV ad spot, it becomes clear that unless you have an unlimited budget, radio could be a key asset for your business.

High repeat and recall

A key aspect of successful advertising is being able to repeat your message often and create high recall and memorability. Radio allows for both. Again, due to radio advertising’s cost effectiveness, repeating a message frequently enough is not out of reach of most advertisers. And the ability to do this leads to extremely high recall levels for the associated investment.

Highly segmented offering

Instead of spraying your message everywhere and hoping it reaches your audience, you can target them specifically and be much more effective.

Ability to tell stories

People today are not satisfied with standard promotion-driven advertising. To afford you a share of their time, they demand that you engage them, entertain or tell them a good story in return for their attention. Radio offers a great medium through which to do so. Humour and stories are often sought by listeners as a source of distraction from their day, while the ability to inject a unique tone of voice and ambiance through music is key.

Radio Player

Advantages and Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

As with any advertising medium, one can expect advantages and disadvantages. We have listed some of the important ones to consider when it comes to radio advertising. Let’s take a look below.

Tracking ability

Radio advertising has a tracking ability which allows you to see if the ad is being effective on a daily and weekly basis. The great thing here is that you can easily move your radio ad to a different radio slot if the results are not satisfied within the period that you have set.

Limited spots

Everyone wants to get their ad aired during peak times, it can get difficult to secure yourself a spot in these slots. It is vital to work with an agency that has relationships in the radio industry and will be able to negotiate to get you onto the prime spots.

Low production cost

No hair and make-up cost, no lights, camera, action costs on elaborate sets and all the other costs that go into creating a television commercial.

Targeted reach

Knowing which radio station your target audience listens to will allow you to get your message to them effectively and frequently. Linking your radio ad to a competition, this way you can get great listener engagement. Listeners can call-in to participate in the competition and as a result, remember your ad.

Lack of visual appeal

Radio makes use of just one sense (hearing), meaning that your ad has to be so effective that it stirs up the imagination of the listeners and evokes emotions.

Reach your audience anywhere

Radio is the only mass medium that people use while driving, cleaning the house or out in the garden. TV advertising requires people to sit in front of their TV, print ads and online media requires focused attention on the page or your screen. But you can listen to the radio while doing other things.

Radio Editing Studio

What Does it Cost to Advertise on Radio?

We’ll outline all the costs you can expect when advertising on radio below. Radio stations have ad time inventory of about 18 minutes per hour, which is sold to advertisers in 15, 30 or 60 second slots. Not all minutes are valued equally due to the shifting audience sizes throughout the day. The cost of making a radio advert is impacted by various factors, and while different radio stations will have different rate cards based on their listenership and popularity, having an experienced advertising agency can help you get the best bang for your buck. 

Factors Influencing Radio Ad Cost

There are various things to consider when looking at the costs involved in radio ads, and if you are not clued up in the media buying space it can get difficult to decide on how to spread your budget effectively. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Casting & production costs
    The cost of a radio advert is much lower than television or print, you still have to ensure that you create a quality ad that listeners will not tire from hearing throughout different times in the day and on different radio stations.
  • The radio stations listenership
    The listenership is what determines the reach of your radio ad. Reach refers to the number of different people who will hear your ad, and cost implications come in deciding on the number of radio stations to place your ad. Consider placing your ad on a radio station with 60,000 listeners vs a station with 6,000 listeners may cost more, but it may be a better choice for positive results in reach.
  • Time
    The length of a radio ad versus the ad slot. You could create a 15-second ad and play it during peak times and find that it cost you more than a 30-60 second ad played during off-peak times.
  • Frequency
    The first reaction is to focus on the morning or afternoon time slots because these are peak times which will increase your reach; because more people are tuned in. However, ever considered the times your message reaches the ear of your target audience? This is where frequency comes into play; the number of times your ad is heard by the average person over a week. This is important to consider when looking at radio ad cost especially if your budget is small, you may want to consider fewer radio stations or just 2 that will play your ad frequently at different time slots.
radio buttons

How to Advertise on the Radio

It is vital to make sure that you choose the right type of radio ad to capture your target audiences’ attention. At Empire, we have experienced professionals who are able to advise the best radio ad type for your objective. Here is a look at the different types of radio advertisements available in the industry.

How to buy Radio Advertising

By understanding the various types of radio adverts, the demographic of radio stations, and consulting a company like Empire, who understands negotiating rates, listenership, reach VS frequency, we are able to assist you in reaching your advertising efforts through tailored packages best suited to your overall objective. 

Here are things to keep in mind when looking at buying radio ads:

  • Reach vs Frequency
  • Which type of radio ad is cheaper
  • Which slots are in high demand, therefore, costing more
  • How to negotiate the best rates for spots

What is the difference between reach and frequency?

There are two main industry terms that you would need to understand when looking into radio advertising; Reach and Frequency. Let us look a little closer at what these mean and the differences between reach and frequency.

  • Radio Advertising Reach
    Reach- the number of different people who hear a radio commercial. To build reach with a radio campaign, it’s a good idea to advertise consistently over a long period of time. Do it several times per day at peak listening hours, targeting Breakfast and Afternoon Drive shows, but these slots will be costly. Alternatively, you can maximize reach by advertising on several radio stations – be careful not to dilute frequency.The stations you choose all have coverage areas with specific data on demographics, and according to recent Nielsen research, radio actually has the most reach among American media consumers. 93% of adults listen to the radio each week, compared to 87% who watch TV. The wide variety of radio formats is a dream for advertisers because radio is so targetable.
  • Radio Advertising Frequency
    Frequency refers to the number of times your ad is heard by the average person over the course of a week. If we’re talking strictly frequency and the best number for it to be for us to achieve maximum effectiveness, what is the magical frequency number? There’s a scientific algorithm to determine what is best and it’s about 3.4 impressions per person per week, rounded down to 3. Best way to achieve this is by using a 21/52 schedule i.e. 21 ads/week translates to 52 weeks/year. The exact number of ads per week will vary depending on the station you’re buying into and more bandwidth stations offer more frequency based on your media buying strategy. Pro Tip for media buying – to capitalize on frequency, you should run more ads per week, on a single radio station and note the time of day. It will have a positive effect on your frequency.

Radio Advertising Scheduling

Based on your advertising objectives, you will need to decide on a schedule, which encompasses the number of ads and the length of the campaign. There are various types of schedules, let’s take a look at a few:

  • Run of station
    These are often referred to as ROS and this type of schedule means that your ad can run any day and time of any available slot. The radio station decides which parts of the day and which programs your ad will be featured on, which can be seen as an advantage because often you might get better rates in your ad buy. ROS schedule is commonly used by businesses such as car dealerships
  • Flights
    Also known as Branding Schedule, this is a 4-8 week long duration where your ad is aired in the same spot, and then switched to a different spot for another 4-8 hours, and so on. The duration of a flight is dependent on your ad budget, the station you are on and the strength of your message.
  • Dominate a day
    This is when you choose a day of the week and the radio station airs your ads all day long. This is a great option if you have a small advertising budget and want the best out of your buck. This can all sound overwhelming at first, but If you’re looking to expand your reach through radio advertising, our expert team is ready to help you dominate the soundwaves.
Radio Ad

How to Create a Radio Advertisement

Depending on the type of radio advertisement you are going for, the most you will need is a voice-over artist, some music, script and a recording studio or device. Your radio advertising message must be clearly understood and aim to stimulate the audio senses in order to stir the imagination of the listener. People shouldn’t have to work too hard to understand what you’re trying to convey. The script needs to be short, engaging and to the point. Your ad needs to cut through the rest, with a single-minded concept that stirs up emotions.

The Radio Ad Script

Ultimately your script should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What’s the purpose of the ad? (What would you like to achieve?)
  • What’s the offer or key benefit?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What do you want the listener to do?
  • Does the ad require just one voiceover or can you use multiple voice overs?
  • Is it a 15-second ad or a 30-second ad?
  • Is the advert memorable?

Radio Ad Message

You have less than 30 seconds to get your message across. You need to make sure it’s clearly defined. Keep your message as simple as possible. What problem are you solving? What is going to make the listener tune back in once the music has stopped and the ads have begun? Your language and voiceover artist need to appeal to your audience. How can the product or service you’re pitching help the listener? How can it be translated in a way that will make the listener care?

Radio Ad Call to Action

What do you want the listener to do? Visit your website? Find you on instagram? You need to tell the listeners what you want them to do next, whether the action is a phone call, ordering online or visiting a store.

Studio Microphones

Your International Radio Advertising Partner

When you partner up with a professional radio advertising company, not only are you increasing your chances of securing the best spots for your ads, but you’re also guaranteed a great quality radio advert that will reach your target audience effectively and result in a good return on investment. At Empire, we walk the journey with you to ensure that the message you want to deliver to your target audience is done successfully, keeping you included in the creative process because we believe that you know your business best; ours is just to make sure you’re heard!

If you’re looking to launch a radio ad, no matter in which country, Empire has successfully helped many business owners reach their intended audience and gain new customers. Contact us for more information.