What marketers should know about the Radio Advertising Bureau

The Radio Advertising Bureau is a nonprofit focused on advocacy for radio. It offers marketers plenty of useful research on what radio ads are effective.
Radio Advertising Bureau: broadcaster speaking into a microphone

With so many different platforms and channels to choose from, it’s hardly surprising that radio often isn’t the first advertising medium marketers think of. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) is here to change that way of thinking.

Its popularity and wide reach alone makes the association noteworthy. The RAB includes 6,000 member radio stations in the United States and more than 1,000 member networks.

In reality, both broadcast and digital radio offer significant potential for marketers. The Radio Advertising Bureau is a nonprofit focused on advocacy for radio, one of the world’s oldest broadcast mediums. These efforts don’t just help radio stations — they also offer several benefits to advertisers.

Let’s take a closer look at why the RAB is worth paying attention to.

What is the RAB?

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The Radio Advertising Bureau says, “The Radio Advertising Bureau is the not-for-profit trade association representing America’s broadcast Radio industry. Our primary objective is to drive revenue growth through advocacy, providing the tools and resources to help the industry attract new sales talent to the medium and enhance industry professionalism through training and support.”

Essentially, the goal of the RAB has remained the same ever since it was founded in the 1950s: to promote radio as a valuable advertising medium, even with so many other choices now available. 

Around the time the RAB started, many predicted that the rise of television would kill the radio. Yet here we are in 2022, and more than 83% of Americans still listen to traditional broadcast radio on a weekly basis. At the same time, podcast and online radio listening have seen dramatic increases.

As others have previously noted, video didn’t “kill the radio star.” While the rise of TV (and subsequently, social media and the internet) have certainly changed the marketing landscape and audio advertising, audio remains a valuable platform today.

Of course, people sometimes need reminding of that. And through its advocacy, the Radio Advertising Bureau highlights how and why radio works for so many brands.

RAB resources to help your next campaign

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When you visit the Radio Advertising Bureau’s website, you’ll find a wide range of in-depth research that not only highlights radio’s potential advertising value, but also how you can improve your own marketing efforts.

Consider, for example, the organization’s research on radio ad recall. RAB’s research reveals that for both 30-second and 60-second ads, “slice of life”-style ads have greater recall rates than testimonials and announcer-format ads. Interestingly, the use of humor and music did not seem to have any influence on ad recall.

Their research further reveals that for 30-second spots, the brand should be mentioned 4-5 times to maximize customer recall. For 60-second spots, the ideal number of mentions is 6-10. Interestingly, an ad that includes more words also has better recall (meaning that a 30-second ad with 85 words would perform better than a 30-second ad with 75 words).

Knowing all that should have a direct impact on how you write and record your radio creative! Regardless of whether your ad is going on a podcast or traditional broadcast radio, this knowledge can make it more effective for brand awareness and sales.

And that single study is just the tip of the iceberg. RAB’s research goes in-depth on a wide range of topics related to audio, such as smart speakers, in-car listening, and how to schedule weekly radio spots. You’ll even find estimates of the market ratings for nearly 300 cities, ranging from New York City (with an age 12+ population of 16,662,000) to Juneau, Alaska (12+ population 28,000).

It’s a lot to take in. But this kind of information can make all the difference for your campaign. 

Do you need a Radio Advertising Bureau membership?

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While much of the Radio Advertising Bureau’s information is available for free to the public, some advanced data and tools are limited to members only. Access to this information requires an online login. This is available to radio stations that are members of the RAB as well as advertisers with a significant interest in radio.

Those who are not already subscribers and want to access locked content should contact the RAB directly at 1-800-232-3131 to learn more about membership qualifications. 

Do you absolutely need to become a subscriber to the Radio Advertising Bureau? It depends. If you’re just dipping your toes into audio advertising, their base research and case studies are a good starting point. You probably don’t need to worry about subscribing — yet.

On the other hand, the deeper you get into audio advertising, the more worthwhile a membership will likely become. Prospecting tools, sample creative briefs, and other resources could help your advertising become even more effective.

The Radio Mercury Awards

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It’s no secret that many creatives in the advertising industry grew up with dreams of being filmmakers and storytellers. And while the average marketer probably isn’t ever going to hear their name read at the Academy Awards, the Radio Advertising Bureau has created its own award program to recognize the best in radio advertising: the Radio Mercury Awards.

First hosted in 1991, the Radio Mercury Awards have been held annually to recognize excellence in audio advertising across a wide range of categories.

These awards don’t only go to big brands. Peruse the list of 2021 winners and you’ll find winning ads for the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance and the Kansas Medical Clinic along with known brands like Progressive Insurance or Walmart.

The range of awards also includes awards for “creative use of non broadcast audio” and “purpose-driven spot or campaign.” There is much greater diversity in audio advertising than you might expect. The Radio Mercury Awards not only rewards some of the best, most creative audio advertising of the year — it also shows just how versatile audio can be.

If you’ve always dreamed of seeing your name on a list of award winners, writing a stellar radio spot could be the key to seeing that dream come true.

The RAB isn’t the only resource available to advertisers

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While the Radio Advertising Bureau certainly provides plenty of valuable information that helps show why radio matters, smaller companies often struggle to make the most of this medium. The cost of radio advertising or podcast sponsorships can make it seem impossible to compete with larger corporations.

This is where Decibel comes in. At Decibel, we recognize the amazing value that radio listening can provide for brands. Quite simply, radio works! At the same time, we recognize that buying audio ads remains a challenge for many. Our platform aims to democratize audio advertising by giving small businesses equal footing in making audio ad buys. 

We also aim to make audio advertising easier with valuable resources like sample scripts, AI voices, and informative blogs to guide you in your advertising journey — none of which is locked behind a subscription.

When radio works for small businesses, the resulting growth can enhance entire communities, strengthening their foundations and helping people on a local level. Get started with your audio campaign today, and get your radio creative in no time.

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