- Radio lets you target your ad budget to the market most likely to respond to your offer.
- Free creative help is usually available at the radio station.
- Rates are negotiable, based on supply and demand.
- Frequency generates "top-of-mind" awareness.
- Most stations are streamed live online, which provides a wider audience.
- Music stations have lost listeners as digital music devices have become more popular.
- Radio is a fleeting medium; listeners can't review your ad.
- Radio ads are an interruption to entertainment and have to be repeated often to break through the listener's "tune-out" factor.
- Most listeners are doing something else while hearing your ad.
In a radio ad, you must do the following within the span of one minute or less:
- Grab the listener's attention.
- Tell them something they want to hear.
- Sell them something they may not need (at least not immediately).
- Mention the name of your business at least three times.
- Get them to remember your phone number, street or web address.
- Motivate them with a "call to action" (e.g., see us today, call today for great rates, stop by and let us show you...)
It's best to get help from professionals to create effective radio advertising. Radio combines succinct writing with sound production and voice talent. If you need to go it alone, the local radio station will most likely produce an ad for you.
Two cardinal rules for radio advertising:
- It's better to advertise when people are listening than when they aren't, so scheduling is important.
- It's better to bunch your commercials together in a flight than to spread them out over a long period of time.
If you don't know which stations you want to use, ask each station for its demographics and the research to back it up. Then you can decide whether that matches your target audience. The stations will also provide information about their programming, musical format, geographic reach, number of listeners and station ratings.
Radio ads are usually purchased in 10-, 20-, 30- and 60-second spots, with 60 seconds being the most common. Radio rates vary depending on the time of day broadcast. Organized from most expensive to least expensive, these general time categories deliver different sized audiences:
|Morning drive |
6 AM to 10 AM
7 PM to Midnight
|Evening drive |
4 PM to 7 PM
Midnight to 6 AM
|Home worker |
10 AM to 4 PM
(Note: Weekend rates may also vary from weekday rates.)
Fixed spots are guaranteed to be broadcast at specified times and are the most expensive. "Run-of-station" or floating spots are the least expensive, but you have no control over the broadcast times. These ads are used as "fillers" by the station. By getting the station ratings and the number of people it reaches, you can figure out the cost-per-thousand people (CPM). Simply divide the cost of a commercial by the thousands of people you are reaching. This can help you in choosing stations and times. Most of the time radio advertising should be bought in chunks. High frequency over a short period of time is much more effective than low frequency over a longer period of time. It's important for your audience to hear your ad repeatedly to retain your key message.
You can also turn to a media buying service, which often offers packages that span several radio stations. That saves you from working with individual stations – you may even be able to buy TV or print outlets from the same representative at a discount since bulk buyers have more negotiating power.
Some stations offer options such as an interview or other content on a show. This kind of branded content is complicated and you really need an expert to represent you in such a buy. Consult with your ad agency or PR firm to ensure that you will get the value and the timeslots you need.