Media Series – Issue 4: Radio Advertising

Local Radio Marketing in Iowa

Overview of Using Radio for Advertisements

Radio has been embedded as part of our culture for a long, long time. While it no longer serves the same purpose it did before the age of TV, radio continues to be a heavily used form of entertainment. One of the most interesting aspects of radio is that it combines the heavy use of TV (people spend many hours listening) with the broad topic array of newspaper.


Upside of Radio Advertisements

As I mentioned above, Radio is far from its peak but there are still a number of good reasons to consider Radio advertising for your media plan.

  • The number of people listening to radio is still very large so you have access to a large percentage of the population.
  • Like with newspaper, the wide variety of topics appeals to broad audience.
  • Through program time and selection, you can effectively target your audience.
  • Since it is available during transit, consumers spend a lot of time listening to the radio and they are somewhat captive.
  • Because it is primarily just voice and script, production costs for radio are very low. This also allows the flexibility to frequently change and refresh your message.
  • On a per-spot basis, radio advertising is relatively inexpensive.

Downside of Radio Advertising

Radio has its limitations, though, and generally works best when used in conjunction with other media options.

  • Most markets are saturated with many stations so, unless you advertise on all competing stations, you’ll only hit a sub-set of the total audience.
  • Research shows that you need significant repetition (at least 5-7 airings) for your message to sink in. To be heard 5-7 times, you need to be on a lot more than that which means you’ll need to spend some money.
  • Since “drive times” are when everyone is listening, this is when you’ll usually want to advertise. You guessed it! Drive time radio spots are much more expensive.
  • You leave no lasting message for listeners to review. Your commercial spot comes and then it’s gone.
  • Because they’re in transit, listeners don’t have the ability to immediately act on any buying impulses your radio spot creates.

Main Thing To Know About Radio Advertising

Radio has been around a long time for a reason and it still can play a prominent role in your media plan. My issues with radio are somewhat similar to TV in that it is very expensive to do it well and often and it’s somewhat inefficient. In my experience, radio, like newspaper, is very effective for “event” advertising and can be done at a modest cost if your geography requirements are limited. If your geography is not limited, you’ll need a large budget for a strong regional or national campaign. If you have this kind of budget, radio can be a nice complement to your other media options but is not generally that effective by itself.

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Article written by John Howard

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John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

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5 Comments


  1. Gerhart

    Good stuff! When are you getting to television?

    January 4th, 2011 at 10:14 am Reply

    • President

      Thanks for asking. TV will be covered in the next issue and we are planning to post it next week.

      January 4th, 2011 at 1:33 pm Reply

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    January 11th, 2011 at 5:03 pm Reply

    • President

      We’re glad you liked it. Feel free to request specific topics if there are certain items you want to see.

      January 12th, 2011 at 10:53 am Reply

  3. KedDizadeld

    I love fronterahouse.com! Here I always find a lot of helpful information for myself. Thanks you for your work.
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    January 25th, 2011 at 1:04 pm Reply

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