Radio Marketing 101

Mary Ann


October 17, 2022

Second only to print publications, radio is the oldest form of traditional media. This can lead many marketers to forget about or deprioritize the medium, as it’s certainly easy to let new media technologies pull our focus when planning a marketing strategy. Even when you’re already thinking about using audio to advertise, podcasts and social media platforms like Clubhouse are indeed growing opportunities to place audio ads. But traditional broadcast radio still has the highest reach of any medium and continues to demonstrate effectiveness.

What are the basics of radio marketing and how can you best incorporate it back into your media plans?

Types of Ads

Produced spots are the most familiar method of radio advertising, in the form of 15, 30, or 60-second recorded ads that are placed within ad breaks between songs, talk shows, or sporting events. Live reads are marketing messages read in real-time by a radio host. These have the benefit of adding the host’s credibility and implied endorsement of the marketing message. Sponsorships are also popular, with various elements of radio programming like traffic, weather, or sports scores announced as “brought to you by…” your brand or business.  


Increased Attention

Perhaps the main benefit of radio advertising is the increased attention of listeners. Many TV viewers use a ‘second screen’ when watching now, and with DVRs and streaming services, viewers will often skip ads altogether while online ads can be ignored or hidden by ad blockers. Radio ads cannot be skipped through, and listeners are generally doing less-distracting tasks while listening, generating increased awareness of your ads as they play.


Tips for Writing Radio Ads

The easy part is just paying attention to the radio ads you hear yourself and taking note of what catches your ear, along with which ads prove memorable to you hours or even days later. When putting an ad together, efficiency is key. It’s always tempting to cram in as much info as you can, but you want to avoid repeating anything but your price or offer, your business name or website address, and your call to action.


Reaching Your Audience

The original electronic media, radio reaches more Americans than any other platform measured by Nielsen: 92% of U.S. adults every week. Radio ads are highly targetable, with each station having its own well-defined audience. And choosing the days of the week and times of day that your ads will run will ensure that you reach the right segments of each audience while they are performing the activities where they will be the most receptive to your messages. You can work with a radio station or network of stations directly to pick your placement stations and times, or partner with a media agency to place your ads across a range of stations and platforms to best target your message.


Radio Audiences by Generation

Many assume that radio audiences skew towards older demographics, while younger Millennials and Gen Z members spend their time on social media or streaming media. But the reach between different generations is actually fairly consistent. The highest weekly reach at 92% is with adults 50-64, but adults 18-34 have only a slightly lower rate of 84%. Over half of Gen Z (ages 10-25) are reached every day by traditional AM/FM radio, which makes radio an effective media for reaching the Zoomers, especially when accompanied by a digital or streaming version in your campaign plan. Which brings us to…


Radio as a Multiplying Element

Even with all these positive qualities of radio advertising, it’s still a rare instance where radio ads should be the sole component of your marketing plan. Digital, video, OTT, and even print are all ingredients that benefit from – and contribute to – the effectiveness of radio in boosting your ROI on any campaign. Hearing your ad on the radio and then seeing another version of it later significantly helps embed your message in the minds of your audience.


Radio advertising is a great tactic to attract new customers and increase awareness of your (or your client’s) business. Being a very cost-effective advertising method, it is well worth testing out with the chance that it can increase sales and brand awareness at a low investment cost. You now know the basics of radio advertising and how to get started implementing radio ads into your next campaign. Let me know if we can assist you in researching radio stations and networks, and brainstorming scripts that will attract your target market.


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