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Radio Advertising Mini Series: Why Should I Use Radio Ads?

David Ciccarelli

September 23, 2021

Ever since radio first struck the airwaves, radio ads have been an immensely effective way of communicating a message to a mass audience.

Between the podcast boom, algorithm-based audio streaming platforms, and the emergence of smart speakers, audio consumption is at an all-time high.

Broadcast radio certainly hasn’t missed out on this wave of massive growth. In fact, a 2020 Nielsen survey found that “radio remains one of the centrepieces of the media universe, reaching 92% of U.S. adult listeners each week, more than any other platform.”

For brand strategists and creative producers looking to expand their breadth and disseminate their advertising to as many ears as possible, creating effective radio ads is the way to go.

There’s a lot that goes into building a radio ad campaign. That's why we’re covering the ins and outs of it all in a mini series of 3 posts that will cover the reason for making use of this marketing strategy, how to make a successful radio campaign, as well as how to measure it.

This first article will lead you through the steps of understanding the current state of radio advertising and how to create a captivating and memorable radio ad that will resonate with your target audience.

Listen up and let’s get started!

What is Radio Advertising?

This may seem like a silly thing to address in the 21st century, but it’s a valid question because radio advertising is no longer limited to traditional broadcast technology. As you’ll see below, the “radio ad” can be found in podcasts and music streaming services. A 2020 report on smart speaker home assistants even shows that 42% of daily commands are to play radio stations.

Simply put, radio ads are being heard through more modern channels and it’s time for a modern answer to the question “What is radio advertising?”

The modern definition of radio advertising is the use of short-duration audio ads inserted throughout audio content in any number of ways, including traditional radio, music streaming services, podcasts, and more.

That is all to say radio advertising no longer refers to just audio broadcasts. The long standing marketing tactic is now representative of a broad style of audio ad that transcends the traditional use of radio.

As you’ll see throughout this post, the traditional aspects of radio advertising are still vital to its success. They remain time bound and short in duration, call to action-driven, and provide a chance to make something memorable through repetition. The best practices for crafting a radio spot are founded on the broadcast use case, but it turns out that recipe is hugely successful for any radio-style ad across your multi-channel marketing mix.

Why Should I Use Radio Advertising?

Picture this:

A person drives to work listening to their favourite morning radio show that gives them entertainment, updates about the traffic in their area, as well as your radio ad!

The next day, on their lunch break, they see your ad on Instagram. It’s a video but uses the same audio as the radio ad they heard on their way to work—you’ve transcribed the video, too, right? ;)—so even with their sound off, they can read the captions and recognize that they’ve heard it before.

Fast forward to the drive home. They boot up Spotify to listen to their favourite podcast on the drive. Your radio ad plays before the episode starts, and your target customer has heard your ad three times in one day!

The ability to insert short radio ads into audio mediums, while also creatively harnessing the radio ad for other visual platforms, is why you should use radio advertising. This repetitious yet unobtrusive style of ad is proving to be more successful than ever before because of the ability to consistently serve it across multiple mediums.

To that point, another reason to use radio advertising is that tech advancements are improving the measurement of radio ad performance. We’re at a point where radio ads are quantified well beyond general impressions and CPM.

General Motors was thrilled to announce how they were able to contribute to the clarity of radio advertising performance with their Connected Car features at the 2020 Advertising Research Foundation conference. Improved measurement and reporting is going to continue, and with it comes a more clear response to the question “Should I use radio advertising?” to which radio advertisers everywhere would respond with a resounding “Yes.”

Now that we’ve covered the “what” and “why,” it’s onto the “how.”

How Do I Make a Good Radio Ad?

The goal for any business creating a radio ad, be it for 30 seconds or 60 seconds, is to reach potential customers by introducing messaging about a product or service. This all starts with capturing the listener’s attention.

Catching the listener’s attention doesn’t just require the right audience to be reached, but also needs a relevant message. This could be a new idea, product, or service, all culminating in a strong call to action.

To start, it’s worth noting that the concept of radio advertising is always evolving. For instance, the advent of music streaming services and niche podcasts have rendered the radio spot more relevant than ever.

From a small business advertiser’s perspective, an average 30- or 60-second radio ad offers a golden opportunity to tell a story, impact a listener on an emotional level, reinforce a brand’s identity and value, and clearly state a call to action.

We walk through the 7 best practices of radio ad copywriting and how to choose the right voice actor for the job in the next post of this mini series.

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Want to get a head start on your radio advertising campaign before the next release? Contact us today.

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