The complete guide to radio advertising

Radio advertisements are effective, reach the masses (while still making use of unique targeting opportunities), affordable, and simple to launch.
Woman holding a boombox listening to radio advertising

If only it was that easy for brands to simply whisper directly into their target audience’s ear. Like, Psst. Have you heard of Decibel?

Brand awareness would skyrocket, and sales would soar. Well, with an effective radio advertising campaign, the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Although technologies have changed, humans have stuck to their habits and rituals. Drive to work. Exercise. Make dinner. And while they are doing these tasks, some are listening to streaming radio stations.

Radio advertising can be a lucrative tactic for you—but only if you leverage it correctly. In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about radio advertising and how you can make a jingle or ad spot that really speaks to your customers.

Why is radio advertising a good marketing investment?

Radio advertising: woman in the car singing GIF

Radio has a massive audience — more than 83% of Americans who are older than 12 listen to the radio every week. It’s no wonder why business owners want to capitalize on those listening.

If you learned anything from playing Monopoly, it’s that you should always be protective of your cash and assets. Many may wonder — if radio advertising offers a decent return on investment.

There are many reasons why getting your business featured on national, regional or local radio stations is a good idea. After all, any airtime will generate some publicity.

Radio advertising is a worthy marketing investment because it is:

  • Effective: Radio can move the needle for your business. In fact, it is 20% more cost-effective building brands than other mediums like print and digital.
  • Mass communication with targeting options: Hundreds of millions of people listen to radio each day, yet you can still get specific with your targeting parameters to reach the radio listeners in your target demographic.
  • Affordable: Radio advertising is less expensive than other advertising mediums such as cable TV advertising.
  • Minimal lead time: Unlike print newspapers and magazines that need to have ads multiple months in advance, a radio commercial is fast and easy to create.

However, it is important to note that there are a lot of factors that go into a successful radio advertising campaign (e.g. the commercial, the placement, time of day it plays, etc.) You should track success metrics of your radio advertising strategy before doubling-down on it.

How can radio advertising fit into your marketing strategy?

Radio advertising: I wish my radio worked GIF

How exactly does radio advertising fit in with your other marketing efforts?

Usually, radio advertising should be part of a larger marketing strategy for the business—not the sole tactic you rely on. Radio advertising campaigns can alert new customers about your business, increase awareness, and drive in-store and online traffic and conversions.

A healthy marketing strategy typically involves multiple channels and tactics activated in an attempt to get the lowest cost of customer acquisition. Your radio advertising campaign should complement your work on digital, print and traditional media site.

How much does radio advertising cost?

Uncle Scrooge diving into gold coins GIF

A lot of factors go into the cost of your campaign, including the city (or cities) you’re targeting, time of day, and type of ad. For bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles, you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 per 30-second spot. For mid-level cities like Cleveland and Denver, you could expect to pay around $200. 

You can be strategic with your media buys by learning more about what radio shows and stations your target market is actively engaged with.

Once you have the station selected, you can look at the different types of advertising formats that might be a fit for your streaming or broadcast radio campaign.

3 types of radio advertising

There are three radio advertising options to choose from. Selecting the right radio format for your ad is critical, so pay attention! There’s no test at the end, but the radio ad type you choose can affect the success of your campaign…

1. Live read advertisement

Chances are you’ve heard an advertisement in this style. You’re listening to your favorite show, clinging to the host’s every word, when suddenly, he or she stops to share an advertising message from a sponsor. 

It feels natural, almost like it’s a part of the show. Sometimes the host reads from a pre-recorded script. Other times, they might share their own experience with the product. 

A live read advertisement lends credibility to your product or service since the listeners already trust the host.

2. Sponsorship

If you can’t opt for a live read advertisement, consider a sponsorship of a show or station. This is a unique way to get your brand integrated into the show without having to write and produce a full commercial.

The types of sponsorship you can get vary across commercial radio stations. For example, you could give away some of your product to the show in hopes that they’ll mention it on the air, increasing your brand awareness. Other times, your business name would be mentioned as the presenting partner of the show or channel. 

In most instances, a voiceover advertisement that the host reads (and perhaps a static image or video on internet radio stations) will be included in a sponsorship as well depending on the particular station that is your partner.

3. Radio commercial or jingle

After the host mentions that the show is going to a quick break, a handful of 30-second spots begin. This is the standard type of radio commercial or jingle you’re used to hearing — it might include music, sound effects, or voice actors. 

The benefit is you can play this signature, memorable commercial across multiple channels. And, you can make it sound just the way you want. You can get started writing your own commercial with these sample scripts as a guide. 

Let radio advertising boost your marketing campaign

Tuning the radio GIF

There you have it: everything you need to know about radio advertising. Okay, okay, maybe not everything. But it is a solid foundation to begin planning and creating your next radio advertising campaign. 

As you plan your radio advertisement, you’ll need to choose the right type of advertisement to truly reap the benefits. Remember, radio advertisements are effective, reach the masses (while still making use of unique targeting opportunities), affordable, and simple to launch. 

Learn more about the wide reach of radio spots and how one can make a memorable impact on your audience in this next post, “What every marketer should know about radio spots.” If you want to get started on your next radio advertising campaign, launch your campaign in less than five minutes with Decibel.

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