Have you ever heard a radio ad that just blew you away? Have you ever wondered how to capture that magic for your own company? Then you’ve come to the right place. As part of our Marketing Master series, I’m here to teach you everything you need to know about radio advertising, including costs and how to implement it in your company. If you’re considering adding new services, radio advertising might be a good option for you. I’ll explain the benefits and drawbacks of radio advertising in this post. I’ll also show you how to take advantage of radio advertising. If this is your first time dealing with radio advertisements, there are certainly a few questions that spring to mind; between the video and the article, you should find all of your concerns answered.
Types of Radio Advertising
When we think of radio advertising, we tend to think of it as just one thing. The reality, as usual, is a little more complicated. In addition to differences in running ads on local versus national or satellite stations, there are also different types of advertisements to choose from. Commercials, sponsor spots, and block programming all have advantages and disadvantages as an advertisement format, so let’s explore each one a little deeper.
There’s a lot of argument over how long a radio commercial needs to be in order to be effective. The most frequent length is 60 seconds, but radio stations frequently run promotions that offer 15 seconds and 30 seconds of airtime. (I’ll come back to the 15-second spots in a minute, but for now, I’m sticking to the more common 30- and 60-second spots.) These are the typical lengths used by radio advertisements; I’ve done both, but I typically prefer 60-second spots. You really get a lot of bang for your buck when you do the 60 seconds because you can fit a lot of content into one minute. If you tell a story and you actually have the right marketing strategy behind these tactics, you will have a lot of success.
The second type of airtime that you can purchase are called sponsor spots. They identify you as a sponsor for individual segments, and they sound like this: “This segment is sponsored by XYZ Insurance.” These sponsor spots can be purchased for specific periods in the programming such as traffic, weather, news, or whatever the various radio blocks are for a given station throughout the day. This is a really good deal; it’s usually cheaper and, if you listen, you can actually get an even better deal on these sponsor spots over the holidays. You can tie in some actual radio spots with it, and this particular type of airtime gives you not just brand recognition, but implied credibility.
This is where I have the most amount of experience, as I did it the longest. It’s actually creating segments or new shows and this is what they call block programming. This is where you buy a block of time on the radio station. Usually, it’s in their lower non-peak times of the station where you buy this block programming time of an hour. It technically breaks down to about 50 minutes and they’ll quote you anywhere between a thousand to sometimes five thousand dollars a month depending on the size of the station to have that hour block.
You can basically construct a program or some other type of content around whatever topic you like (within reason) during your airtime, and you purchase that time. You may simply talk; you can give sermons; you can do interviews with people who want to be on the show, etc. Take my radio show, for example: since I was on a Christian business station, I conducted a Christian mentoring show.
I would break my presentation into four parts and talk about each of those during my show. I did some excellent interviews, met some wonderful people, and developed myself as an authority rather than pitching someone to be on my podcast. If you’ve never done this before, I’d highly suggest it. It distinguished me from everyone else because it was an FM radio show and positioned me differently than others. It’s a very popular tool among business owners since it allows them to reach out to thousands of people at the same time in their niche.
Radio Advertising Statistics
Industry data is really helpful; it brings some facts to the table. I’m not just sharing fluff and my own experiences but I’m sharing data that has been collected over the last decade. According to US radio ad market research, in 2020, radio advertising spending in the United States totaled $10.1 billion US dollars. That’s right: eleven digits’ worth of advertising budgets, all poured into the radio. It is predicted that spending on radio advertisements will reach $11.7 billion by the end of 2024.
The second stat that I found that I wanted to share with you is the weekly time spent with online radio and online and offline, like actual FM and AM stations. And audio sources in the United States increased, so it’s actually increasing to 974 minutes in 2021. With the amount of time being spent per week amounting to 16 hours and 14 minutes per week, this increase might have been caused by the rise of time spent at home due to the pandemic – a lot of people have access to streaming radio stations now, like iHeart Radio.
The last stat that I wanted to give you here is really important. In March of 2021, so earlier this year, the leading online radio company in the United States based on the average number of active sessions was iHeart Radio with around 308,000 average active sessions that month. So in March alone, there were 308,000 sessions that happened on iHeart Radio alone. That’s an incredibly large audience. iHeart Radio is a great platform; I’ve been on it myself. I have my podcast on that platform, and I can speak very highly of it, but those numbers are still just plain staggering.
It’s critical to pick an audience for your ad and to make sure it aligns with the radio station you’re paying to advertise on. If you’re advertising to a more liberal crowd, for example, you’ll probably want to go towards NPR or something similar. If you’re looking for a more right-wing demographic, Larry Elder, who is a nationally syndicated radio host and a conservative broadcaster, is on the conservative side of things. The Fish is a sensible option if you’re targeting moms; targeting fathers may bring you to ESPN Radio.
There are lots of different targeting options provided by the different types of stations. You want to go after the right audience; that way you will be sending the right message to the right people. Making sure you air at the right time is also critical. The time of day you play your radio ads can determine if you have 100 people listening or 10,000 people listening.
Radio Advertising Costs and ROI
So if you’re looking at the low side–I mean the absolute lowest I’ve ever seen, and on a holiday giveaway–was around $25 per spot. On average, you’ll need to spend at least $50-$60 spots, with high-average prices hovering around the $75 mark. I’ve even seen $90 spots for prime-time air time. So take that into account when you’re thinking about how much it will cost per spot. If you’re being broadcast nationally, it may get really pricey per spot. Starting locally on a small station and growing momentum is an excellent approach but it takes time to pay off and it can be expensive. I wanted to make sure I mentioned this—that in order to have your own radio show on a radio station, you’ll be spending between $1,000 and $5,000 per month.
Sponsorships are usually more done in endorsements, and these endorsements can cost you anywhere from a thousand to five thousand dollars because they typically have some sort of MC or jock that’s behind your name. My friend Big Al did a lot of AIS commercials back in the day and a lot of Geico commercials. These jocks will wrap your brand for you and say, “Hey, I just had my solar installed by this company,” or “I’m producing this segment sponsored, in part, by XYZ.” Sponsorships on XM provide you with the opportunity to advertise your business without having to spend a lot of money on radio advertising and not only will they still save you money, but they may also boost your company significantly.
ROI on radio advertising takes a long time to build up, but it is almost always a massive return. I’ve mentioned before that it takes thirteen times to activate the recognition centers in the brain, and it usually takes at least thirteen weeks to see a big return on radio advertising for exactly that reason.
Not a lot of your competitors are going on to these older, more traditional ways. Radio’s been around forever. It was invented in 1896, so it’s not a new technology, but it has amazing longevity in a constantly evolving world. It’s been around for a long time and a lot of people have moved over to digital streaming platforms like podcasts but there’s still a great opportunity on the radio for you and that’s why I wanted to share all this information with you today. I hope you guys enjoyed this article. I hope you guys took a lot of notes or bookmarked it because it just has so much useful information. I look forward to the next one, thank you guys so much for reading, and until next time, I’m Adrian Boysel and keep looking up.