Radio Advertising: An Intro Guide for Business Operators

Although services like streaming music and podcast apps have taken some space in the audio entertainment market, Nielsen reports that 92% of adults still listen to the radio each month. Since messages can be tailored and localized for each station, advertisers can target their message for specific geographic areas, communities and demographics.


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Basics of radio advertising

Radio advertising is different from other forms like print, digital and television advertising because you don’t use visuals. Instead, it’s important to have an effective script that engages the listener and conveys information in a way that is easy to understand. The goal is to spark the listener’s imagination so they can see what you are describing or portraying in your ad as if it were happening in front of them.


Radio spots usually come in the form of 30- or 60-second ads. Sponsorship opportunities are also available, with the advertiser receiving a small acknowledgment before, during or after a sponsored segment. Radio presenters read an advertisement script or play a fully-produced advertisement with actors and production effects. Each of these types of radio advertising opportunities has unique benefits and trade-offs, and each could potentially represent the best match for a specific product.


Best practices for radio ads and your business

Radio marketing requires a strong ad campaign to produce positive results. If you are new to creating radio ads, these tips can help you get the most out of your advertising spot:


  • Choose a target audience: Have a specific audience in mind for a radio advertising campaign, even if that audience is still a broad category. Choosing a target audience allows you to cater to your copy and performances to fit the target. The more precise your target is the more closely you can cater to it, at the trade-off of reduced broad appeal.

  • Find the right partner: Knowing your target audience is also a big part of choosing the right radio partner to advertise with. Ideally, find a station or show that has a strong performance in demographics that align with your target audience and ad tone in order to maximize performance.

  • Set a goal: Have a clear target in mind for every ad you create. Whether you’re raising brand awareness or selling a product, knowing what your goal is for the ad makes it easier to create an effective advertisement.

  • Hire the right people: If you will be recording an ad instead of providing an ad read script to the station, you need to make sure you have qualified professionals working on it. While the actors are obviously important, so too, as is finding the right staff for production and placement.

  • Use quality equipment: The quality of recording equipment you use to record your add is crucially important. Even a stellar script and performance can be undone by poor recording quality, so ensure that your hard work shows through by getting a clear recording.

Read more: How to Hire Employees


Tips for writing a radio ad

If you’re ready to begin advertising on the radio but have never produced an ad before, here are some tips you can use to write a great script:


  • Listen to a lot of radio: Start listening to ads on the radio closely and take note of what catches your ear. Think about which radio ads are memorable and stay in your mind hours or even days later. 

  • Listen to archives: Perform an internet search, looking for archives of radio advertisements. Look for the ones that have been most successful and most memorable among listeners. What was it about those ads that catch the listener’s attention?

  • Be efficient: The only things you should repeat in your ad are the price, website address or call to action. Otherwise, your script should convey the message in the most efficient way possible. Tell your story, entertain whenever possible and keep it relevant and straightforward.

  • Write for the ear: A script for audio needs to be able to be spoken convincingly. Write it like you’re trying to persuade a friend, leaving out any gimmicky phrases and cliches like, "don’t forget" or "tons of prizes."

  • Focus on the benefits: Your ad needs to reinforce the benefits of a product and service. This means making introductions and explanations as short as possible and getting right to the point.

  • Hire a copywriter: If you have a budget, hire a professional copywriter or creative ad agency to create a script for you. Ad agencies have experience creating these kinds of ads and will help you write an effective radio ad for your campaign.

Related: How to Find Good Employees


Radio advertising FAQs

If you still have questions about advertising on the radio, here are answers to the two most common questions about radio ads:


Is radio advertising effective?

Radio remains an effective place to advertise your business, particularly with the rise of online radio listening. According to Pew Research Center, people 12 and older who listen to online radio weekly have risen from 12% in 2017 to 60% in 2019.  With stations catering to different niches in the market, radio also provides excellent audience-targeting options.


Why choose radio advertising?

The biggest benefit of a radio advertising campaign is the increased attention of the listener. Many television watchers use a second screen when watching now, and with DVRs, viewers often skip ads altogether, while online ads get ignored or caught by ad blockers. Radio ads can not be skipped, and listeners are often doing less-distracting tasks when listening, meaning that you get an increased awareness of your ads when they play.


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