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The Cost of Radio Advertising

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Radio advertising is considerably more affordable than many people realise. Compared to the other traditional advertising mediums – television, newspapers, and magazines – radio advertising reaches target audiences at the lowest cost.

Recent research conducted by Millward Brown supports this view, with Justin Sampson, managing director of the Radio Advertising Bureau, commenting on the research:

“Radio is three fifths as effective as TV, but only one seventh of the cost. So radio can be a much more cost-effective medium than television for advertising purposes, if it’s used correctly.”

This affordability means that radio advertising is often the preferred mainstream advertising medium of small businesses. People feel very loyal towards their favourite radio station which advertisers can look to exploit, as Radio Works’ Michael Charnley-Heaton says:

“Radio is the ideal medium for small businesses as local radio listeners have a very close relationship with their favourite station and advertisers can benefit from this.”

The cost of radio advertising depends on a number of factors, the main ones being:

The Radio Station – it almost goes without saying that listener numbers are the main determinant of the cost of advertising on a particular station. Therefore try to choose stations that have the highest concentration of your target audience rather than the most popular stations.

Length of the Ad – the standard length is 30 seconds, with 10 second ads being approximately half the price of 30 second ads.

Time of Day – early morning and late afternoon are the most desirable times so are the most expensive.

Length of the Campaign – longer campaigns are more expensive but cheaper on a per ad basis. In general it’s best not to advertise on the radio for less than 4 weeks, unless it’s a highly intensive campaign.

Campaign Frequency – radio advertising relies on repetition so don’t have your ads spread out thinly. If you can’t afford high frequency ads consider advertising one week on and one week off over a couple of months.

The Type of Advertising – radio stations are flexible with what advertising options they have. For example, you can often sponsor particular shows or features, or run a competition on air.

There will also be the cost of the creative. A general rule is that developing the ad should cost no more than 10% of your budget – around £250 for small stations and £2,000 for some of the most popular stations. These fees include script writing, actors to speak in the ad, music and sound effects. However, if you’d like a popular song it can cost up to £25,000 in licensing fees.

To give you an idea of costs don’t expect to spend less than £1,000 per week when advertising on a large regional radio station. As radio advertising works on repetition it’s always recommended to run a campaign for at least 4 weeks, and to repeat it a couple of weeks later.

To complement your radio advertising you can also advertise on the radio station’s website. The advantage of this is that many radio listeners frequently visit the website of the station that they listen to, enabling you to reach the same audience in two mediums. Advertising online is also considerably cheaper than radio advertising, with costs starting from £100 per 50,000 impressions.

Finally, if you’re on the brink of being able to afford radio advertising consider trying a few of our cost saving tips:

Buy at the last minute – sometimes advertisers pull out at the last minute, perhaps due to a last minute change of heart or their product/service not quite being ready. This leaves advertising space that must be filled immediately, so sales representatives are much more receptive to price negotiations.

Buy in January – many companies focus on advertising heavily in the build-up to Christmas and the New Year, resulting in a large drop in demand at the start of year for radio advertising. Discounts and extra commercial slots can be negotiated at this time.

Commit to a large campaign – if you have the budget available consider committing to a 6 month or 1 year advertising campaign. Radio stations will be more than happy to significantly reduce their prices for a long term commitment.

Create competition amongst radio stations – to get the best price possible consider promising your entire budget for radio advertising to one radio station, the one that offers the best deal. However, be careful not to create tension and ill-feeling amongst sales reps.

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