Radio Advertising: How to Turn Radio into Your Sales Machine in 2023 [Guide]

Radio advertising isn’t dead!

In fact, the opposite is true, with around 90% of UK and USA adults listening to the radio each week.

And with the rise of digital radio, radio is thriving more than ever before.

This means that radio advertising can help make sales, and we all want more sales, right?

For every hour of radio broadcasting, around 18 minutes is dedicated to advertisements. Companies can purchase slots of varying lengths within those 18 minutes, usually ranging from 15 seconds to 1 minute.

So, is radio advertising right for you? What are the pros and cons, and how much does it really cost? What are the types of ads and what are best strategies to use?

If that sounds like some complicated questions to answer, don’t worry we got you!

In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about radio advertising – advantages, disadvantages, costs, successful strategies, and some real-life examples from brands you know.

Let’s get right into it!

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    Radio Advertising: Advantages and Disadvantages

    As with anything, there are both advantages and disadvantages to radio ads. Below, We’ll take a look at the factors you’ll need to consider when deciding if using a radio advertisement is the right thing for your business.

    This video by TheLBRBChannel also takes a look at all the benefits of radio ads, so check it out if you’d like to know even more.

    Advantages of Radio Advertising

    Tracking Ability

    When using a radio advertisement, you can track its effectiveness on a weekly or monthly bases.

    Before you run your ad, it’s essential to create a model of what you expect your sales to meet in a given period of time. That way, you have a baseline to go off of when tracking the radio ads’ effectiveness.

    Once you’ve got your ad up and running, you can measure the increased sales from your model’s baseline and know how well it is working. Incrementality testing is a great way to get an accurate idea of the results your ads are driving.

    If you find that it’s not giving you your desired results, you can move it to a different time slot or even a different radio station if you think it’s not reaching your target demographic.

    Either way, the radio advertisement has measurable results and can be utilized in that way.

    Low Production Costs

    Unlike regular commercials, radio ads are far more cost-effective.

    Information about low production cost of radio ads
    Source: CommunicorpUK

    You don’t need to spend money on lighting and sets, hair and makeup, or post-production touchups. All you need is a small recording studio, your voice actors, and the script.

    It’s got far fewer moving parts and is much easier to produce for a much smaller cost.

    Reach Your Audience Anywhere

    Radio is the only form of mass media that can be listened to while driving, doing housework, or working in the garden, making it ideal to help your ad reach a massive audience.

    For advertising to work on TV, people have to be sitting in front of their televisions, paying attention to the ad. On the other hand, advertising in print and online media needs people to focus on the page or screen.

    However, you can still do other things while you listen to the Radio, making it far more dynamic them the other types of advertising.

    And what’s more, radio is the most accessible form of media. People can listen from their cars, houses, and even in public spaces like stores, meaning the radio has an even more extensive reach than initially thought.

    Accessibility

    Radios are cheap and easily accessed by almost anyone, meaning that they are far more common than other types of media and can reach audiences across all levels of income, education, language and location. Radio is one of the only channels you can use to reach audiences in locations where access to things like the internet and technology are limited, as well as audiences that do not read or have access to television.

    In addition, with internet radios, their reach has been extended even further, making them the biggest and most dynamic form of media listened to by most of the population.

    Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

    Limited Spots

    Since everyone wants their ad to be shown during peak hours, getting a spot in one of these timeslots might be tricky. It’s important to work with an agency that knows people in the radio business and can negotiate to get you into the top slots for a reasonable price.

    Lack of Visual Appeal

    Due to the fact that radio only appeals to one of the senses (hearing), it is naturally harder to keep the listener’s attention. You can’t depend on bright colors and pleasant visuals to keep someone focused on your advertisement.

    So, your advertisement has to embrace the characteristics of radio advertising and be so powerful that it inspires the listeners’ imaginations and stirs up their feelings.

    Requires Precise Targeting from Both Radio Station and Brand 

    If you don’t know which stations your target demographic is listening to, you won’t be able to attract them to your product or service.

    This can be bypassed by doing thorough research; however, it can become a problem if not carefully monitored and examined.

    If you want to learn more about this, check out this video by Interview Questions:

    Summary: Advantages and Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

    Advantages:

    • You can track its effectiveness.
    • It has a lower production cost than other types of ads.
    • It helps you to reach your audience anywhere.

    Disadvantages:

    • There are limited spots available, and it can become very competitive.
    • There is a lack of visuals, and it can be harder to keep someone’s attention.
    • Without extensive research, you might not know which radio stations your target demographic is listening to.

    6 Types of Radio Advertising

    1. Radio Sponsorships

    This type of advertisement falls on the subtler end of the spectrum and is perfect for anyone looking for such an approach.

    You can sponsor the news, contests, sports, traffic, or any of the other regular shows on that radio station.

    The main benefit of a sponsorship ad is that it gets a lot of people involved, especially a competition where listeners are encouraged to call in to take part and have a chance to win cash prizes or other types of rewards.

    Most of the time, sponsored ads come on first during commercial breaks, so your ad will reach more people before they switch stations.

    2. Radio Jingles

    People are more likely to remember a brand if it has a memorable jingle or song associated with it.

    Most people are drawn to this kind of radio advertising since there is a strong correlation between listening to music and retaining information.

    Have you ever noticed how even the most irritating jingles become stuck in your mind, and you find yourself humming or singing them throughout the day?

    That’s the power of radio jingles.

    infographic of the power-of-music in ads
    Source: Nielsen

    3. Personified Commercial (Pre-recorded)

    In a personified commercial, also known as a pre-recorded ad, the listener follows a character within the advertisement. Like when you tell a story, you want the person listening to make a full picture in their mind and use their imagination. Adding characters that people can relate to helps them get into the story and makes them want to know what happens next. For example, an old lady, Martha, who has lost her keys. She creates relatability and empathy within the target demographic, elderly people. Therefore, the company selling Bluetooth key finders has already grabbed the attention of its intended listeners.

    4. Radio Live Reads

    When a radio personality or DJ reads your advertisement while being broadcast live, it is known as a “live read.”

    Because listeners are already acquainted with the radio personality’s voice, they are more likely to respond to the advertisement.

    In addition to helping your business stand out from the competition, live readings put the emphasis where it should be: on your message.

    Further, some studies have shown that live reads can be more effective than pre-recorded ads.

    Infographic Live Reads Out-Perform Recorded Radio & TV Spots
    Source: InsideRadio

    5. Programmatic ads

    Programmatic ads are when algorithms and artificial intelligence are used to buy and sell ads in digital audio like podcasts, digital radio, and music-streaming services.

    These programs automate buying ads by sending ads to consumers in real-time based on what they are doing or what is happening around them; without a brand’s marketing department or the audio publisher selling ad space having to be directly involved.

    For example, if the temperature meets or goes above a set of parameters, a McDonald’s McFlurry ad might play.

    6. Straight Read ads

    This type of radio ad usually talks about the benefits of the brand being advertised and gives important information like an address, email address, or phone number. It is usually delivered in monologue form.

    If it’s crucial that potential customers understand the finer points of what you’re offering, this might just be the right type of radio ad for you.

    Summary: Types of Radio Advertising

    1. Radio Sponsorships: You can sponsor the news, contests, sports, traffic, or any of the other regular shows on that radio station.
    2. Radio Jingles: People are more likely to remember a brand if it has a memorable jingle or song associated with it.
    3. Personified Commercials: In a personified commercial, also known as a pre-recorded ad, the listener follows a character within the advertisement, creating empathy with the listener.
    4. Radio Live Reads: When a radio personality or DJ reads your advertisement while being broadcast live, it is known as a “live read.”
    5. Programmatic Ads: Automated ads sent to consumers in real time based on what they are doing or what is happening around them.
    6. Straight Read Ads: Usually in monologue form, these ads often talk about the benefits of the brand and give important information to the listener.

    Radio Advertising Cost and ROI

    The typical radio ad lasts 30 seconds, but you can purchase 15-second, 60-second, or even 90-second ads.

    Most of the time, ads that run during breakfast or drive time cost more than ads that run in the middle of the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening.

    A typical 30-second advertising schedule will cost around $900 per week in a smaller location such as a town. In contrast, it will cost around $8,000 per week in big markets such as cities with dense populations.

    Moreover, you can expect to pay about $20 to reach 1,000 listeners during peak hours. On the other hand, during off-peak hours, you can expect to pay closer to $10 or $15.

    Advertising costs are often higher on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and lower on weekends. This is because more individuals are in their cars or listening to the radio while working throughout the week.

    Radio also has a higher ROI (return on investment) than other forms of advertising. In the UK, for example,  on average, brands that use commercial radio get their money back 7.7 times more often.

    4 Examples of Brands that Scaled with Radio Advertising

    1.O2

    Since a major rebranding effort in 2006, O2 has been running simple ads that focus on problems and how to solve them, airing on various radio stations around the UK.

    They have a very personal tone, aiming at hitting the ‘relatable’ market, which they are successfully doing with their short radio ad campaigns.

    O2 Logo
    Source: O2

    2.McDonald’s

    Who can’t remember McDonald’s famous jingle?

    Every time you hear it, you think of them. And you hear it a lot.

    It’s distinct, catchy, and above everything, it’s memorable.

    McDonald’s uses short and sweet radio advertisements effectively, scaling its reach by playing its jingle on radio stations around the world.

    mcdonald's Logo
    Source: Mcdonald’s

    3. Vodafone

    Vodafone didn’t try to make a character or experience that everyone could relate to. Instead, they made a character and a situation that their target customers have been in before. They know where the pain is and what’s hard.

    Putting your prospects in a situation they’re used to is a simple but effective way to link your product to a problem. And the key to advertising is to solve problems.

    With effective radio ads running across the globe, Vodafone is a great example of a company scaling its radio ads.

    Vodafone Logo
    Source: Vodafone

    4. EasyJet

    EasyJet is known for its short and memorable radio ads, urging people to use their vacation days before it’s too late. Engaging with the listener and creating a sense of urgency, EasyJet uses audio marketing very effectively.

    In the last few years, EasyJet has begun focusing on its radio ads, which is definitely working for them because people remember their advertisements.

    EasyJet Logo
    Source: EasyJet

    5 Steps to Turn Radio into Your Best Performing Marketing Channel

    1. Understand What Your Audience Wants

    No matter how well scripted and acted, no matter what time of day or day of the week you air your ad, it won’t yield results unless you know what your audience wants.

    What are you offering?

    Who is your target demographic?

    What problem are you solving?

    These are three essential questions you’ll need to ask yourself to understand what your audience wants and thereby create an effective radio ad.

    2. Write a Great Script

    Next, you need to write a memorable script.

    Be funny, relatable, morbid, something that will draw people in. Your advertisement shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch because the average person won’t be interested in the small details.

    Keep it short and to the point. People’s attention drifts quickly, and it’s essential to grab their interest and keep it until the end. Otherwise, your ad won’t be effective.

    Further, you need to make sure that when people think back on your ad, they do so fondly. That way, they’ll think of your brand fondly too.

    3. Hire a Professional Voice Talent

    Just as importantly, the person or people acting out your script need to fit the part. If you choose a joking and friendly tone for your radio advertisement, the person who reads it out or plays a character needs to fit that style.

    Otherwise, your audience won’t be able to connect with your ad, and it becomes less and less effective.

    4. Use the Right Radio Station

    You need to do your research and find out where your target demographic is tuning in. Once you know that, you can air your ad on the radio stations with the most significant percentage of people you want to reach.

    If you don’t do this and just air it anywhere, your well-written, well-acted ad will fall on deaf ears.

    5. Find Your Prime Spot

    Just like the previous point, you need to know what time of day and on which days your target demographic is listening to the radio.

    For example, if you wanted to target mothers with young children, airing an ad on the weekend would be far less effective than airing it during the early morning when she would be taking her children to school.

    However, peak-hour spots are not for everyone. Depending on your budget and targets, you could get away with spending less money on an off-peak-hour slot. But in order to know that, you’ll need to have done the research.

    Summary: 5 Steps to Utilize Radio Marketing

    1. Understand what your audience wants.
    2. Write a great script.
    3. Hire a professional voice talent.
    4. Use the right radio station.
    5. Find your prime spot.

    Final Thoughts on Radio Advertising

    Radio advertisements and marketing strategies are one of the best and most effective ways to get people to notice your product or service.

    Ranging from 15 seconds to 90 seconds, radio ads are aired all week, with prime spots growing increasingly expensive (though still cheaper overall than TV or print ads).

    So, if you want to grow both your business’s traffic and sales, radio ads are a great way to go.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long are radio ads?

    Radio ads are usually 15s, 30s, or 60s, with the longer timeslots costing more and more.

    What are the advantages of radio advertising?

    • You can track its effectiveness.
    • It has a lower production cost than other types of ads.
    • It helps you to reach your audience anywhere.

    What are the drawbacks of radio advertising?

    • There are limited spots available, and it can become very competitive.
    • There is a lack of visuals, and it can be harder to keep someone's attention.
    • Without extensive research, you might not know which radio stations your target demographic is listening to.

    References

    Danoday: The Perfect Length for a Radio Commercial.

    BizSpace: The Complete Guide to Radio Advertising.

    Radio Advertising Facts: Radio Advertising Facts & Figures

    CommunicorpUKWhy Radio Advertising?