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How does Radio Advertising Work?

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Internet advertising spend outstripped radio advertising for the first time back in 2004, with radio advertising continuing to decline over the last couple of years. Radio advertising now accounts for 3.1% of total advertising expenditure in the UK, compared to 4.2% in 2005.

Despite this radio advertising still remains an effective advertising mechanism when used correctly. In fact, local radio stations are often considered excellent mediums for small businesses looking to grow. Listeners tend to have an extremely close relationship with their local radio station and advertisers can use this to their advantage.

Radio, the Internet, and Billboard Advertising

Traditionally people have viewed radio listeners as people driving in their car. This meant that the natural partner to accompanying radio advertising was a roadside billboard advertising campaign. Recent trends now show that increasingly people are listening to the radio when surfing the internet or whilst at work, which has seen advertising on the internet become another natural partner to radio advertising.

Radio advertising is often considered most effective when combined with these other forms of media. However, one way of advertising frequently overlooked is holding a radio competition. This combines radio advertising with a strong call to action as people enter your competition. For businesses on a tight budget this can be one way of avoiding the need to develop and extensive integrated advertising campaign.

The Components of Radio Advertising

There are two main aspects that make up radio advertising – the ad itself, and when the ad is aired – the airtime.

The Ad

The ad can sometimes be created by the radio station on which you are looking to advertise, but more frequently a specialist agency is brought in to design the ad. Naturally this is a very important aspect of your campaign. A good ad can increase the response rate by up to 500%, enough to turn a disastrous radio advertising campaign into a highly effective one.

Radio advertisements can take a number of forms, but there are some golden rules – see producing radio ads that get results.

The Airtime

First is the choice of radio station. Do some research – the most popular radio stations may have the most people but they probably aren’t the most cost-effective when it comes to reaching your target audience.

Next you must choose when you advertise. Commercial radio stations calculate their rates based on how many people are listening at the different times of the day. Therefore the early morning show tends to be the most expensive to advertise on, followed by late afternoon.

Deciding when you advertise will depend on your target audience and your budget. Research suggests that people must hear your ad at least three times a week before it registers with them. Therefore don’t blow your budget on one or two excellent radio slots. Many people may hear your ad but without the frequency they won’t take action. A radio advertising campaign lasting a minimum of one month is recommended.

Don’t fall into the trap of seeing the prices and then choosing the time of day when you’d like to advertise. If your target audience is listening in the early evening then that’s the time of day that you have to advertise. Similarly, if you can only afford to advertise overnight you’re probably best off not advertising at all.

When negotiating your advertising slots never agree to pay the full rate, even more so if you’re experimenting with this medium for the first time. Radio stations will often be prepared to offer special rates for new advertisers, so make sure you ask.

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