Guide to effective radio advertisements

Category: Radio Advertisements

Estimated time: 40 minutes


Radio advertising is once again on the rise. Even in the internet age, radio advertising is still seen as a highly effective and viable marketing medium thanks in part to internet radio and podcasting as well as people listening in on their daily commute. Why? Simply put, because it works. As a result, radio is one of the few advertising mediums that include a built-in loyal audience. 

Most radio listeners have one or two favorite radio stations they tune in to regularly. This gives advertisers a unique co-branding opportunity. Radio listeners also report a greater willingness to not only listen to advertisements but have shown excellent response rates to radio spots. If you’re looking for a built in audience for your brand, radio provides a perfect opportunity.


A significant advantage of radio advertising is the ability to market to both local and national audiences. Radio is one of the few forms of advertising that allows the brand a large amount of control over who experiences the ad and when. Radio spots can be run on local stations and programming only, or they can be distributed to a larger national audience. Radio advertisements can even be tailored to specific times of day to ensure your hitting your desired audience at the exact right time.

Radio has a surprising weekly reach rate of 93% among Americans. With an audience this large, it would be very foolish to not take advantage of radio advertising. It may be more expensive to advertise on the radio than it would be on the internet but the results may be worth the costs. By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the cost and target audience as key parameters for radio advertising
  • Learn to make advertising on radio more effective


  • Costing and Target audiences for radio ads
  • Optimizing the effectiveness of radio ads


Understand the cost and target audience as a parameter considering advertisement on radio


Analyze costs

Once you start advertising you need to do a cost benefit analysis to see if the benefits of radio advertising outweigh the costs. This can be done by taking the average amount of sales that are done before the radio advertisement, then taking the average amount of sales after the radio starts playing. That would give you the basic ability to see if total sales increased. If total sales did increase, radio advertising is worth the cost.

An increase in the number of sales might sound like a good thing, but the thing that you have to look at is to see the average revenue before the radio advertisement then the average total revenue after the radio advertisement. Then you want to make sure that the revenue after the radio advertisement has increased overall – not just the sales!

You then take this ‘revenue’ difference and subtract the costs for running the radio spot. If the number is still positive, the radio advertisement may be worth the costs. A savvy marketer or business person will look at it from all angles before jumping to conclusions about their marketing efforts.

If not, you may want to rethink your advertising strategy and figure out where you are falling short. It might be something as simple as the advertisement not being played at the right time for the customers that would be interested in your goods or service.

For example, if you select a station that a majority of the audience would have no interest in you, your campaign may not receive the response you need. On the other hand, you may have selected the right station that would have plenty of people who would be interested in your product, but they only listen to the radio around noon. If you have your commercial running during their daily commute at 8AM, then guess what? You missed out on reaching your target audience because you did not pay attention to the people you are trying to capture.

This is research that you should do before you start running your radio spot! Many businesses think of this as an afterthought, however. You can ask the radio station for a media kit or request for proposal (RFP) to see relevant data about the station’s listeners. When you receive the media kit you should study it thoroughly to help you in deciding if you should advertise on that station. It also would be a good idea to request a media kit from multiple radio stations to gauge realistically who is listening to that station – and when. 


You are training a new marketing intern and need to create a step-by-step process to help her learn to analyze different radio offerings. Outline a step-by-step plan she can follow in order to scout different radio stations, assess the target audience, put in requests of proposal, analyze different proposals and eventually pick the right arrangement for your campaigns.


Learn to make advertising on radio more effective



If you are overworked, as many small business leaders are, you can hire an advertising agency to help you get this information. An advertising agency would not be able to guarantee you an increase, but they can make sure that your radio spot gets into the ears of the people that would be interested in your product.

Create Powerful CTAs

Another impact-generating strategy – create a call to action (CTA).This could be something as simple as having them visit your website to get more information or as complex as playing the Amazing Race” around town as part of your promo. You can even tell them that the deal is only going on for a short time and if they do not react quickly they are going to miss out. When you create impact, you stay memorable and exciting in the minds of your target customers – and on radio advertising, creating impact can leave a very powerful impression on your customer’s psyche!


Do not put all your eggs in one basket. If at all possible, you need to make sure that you do not just advertise on one station. Try different advertisements on different stations and see which one works better. Evaluation can be done in several ways like having each station play a different telephone number or website. You can even ask customers as they come in how they heard about you. This can help you discover which ad works better and continue endorsing that particular ad.

Call in Experts

Some radio stations even have the ability to help you prepare the advertisement. One good thing about advertising on the radio – you can hire the radio station to not only play the radio spot but to read it as well. Speak to your local radio advertising representative about this possibility. If you don’t want the headache though, and have some spare cash, do yourself a favor and hire someone else to figure it out for you. There is no harm in taking the help of an agency or even one-stop media buying portal . Sometimes, their cut may be worth the relief from the aggravation and the long hours it may take to deduce which station and time spot would be best for your advertisement – especially with a cost-effective portal. They can help find when your radio spot would best be aired.


You are the head marketer for an ecommerce website that sells books and stationery.  Design an effective plan to improve your campaign efficiency and generate an effective result.


Go back to the e-commerce activity. You are explaining to the board of directors why you have chosen radio as part of your outreach and how you plan to optimize your budget. They pose the following questions to you, answer them as best you can:

  • Why do you think radio advertising can be effective even today when most people are on their mobile phones?
  • How will you ensure that we get the best price possible on the market for the radio spots?
  • How will you ensure that the campaign rolls out smoothly?

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