Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Advertising Media – Part 2: Radio

with 4 comments

My multi-part series in advertising mediums continues this week with radio.

An older medium than television, radio is more predominant in people’s lives than they might suspect. Television offers advertisers a single daily opportunity to reach maximum audience numbers during Prime Time. Radio offers two, but only Monday through Friday. These periods are called Drive Time and represent when people are typically using radio: driving to work in the morning and from work in the afternoon/evening. During these drive time periods, advertisers can reach a large audience across many demographics by focusing their buys and maximizing promotional and/or contesting opportunities.

Outside of drive times, the demographic that uses radio changes substantially. Some people are lucky enough to be able to listen to the radio while they are at work and we are sometimes exposed to radio while in public shopping areas. However, the bulk of radio users outside of drive times are either retirees or teens. If you get the chance to read audience trend information, you will find radio formats such as oldies, talk, and top 40 will hold an audience all day long while other formats have their strong spikes during their drive times and holes elsewhere.

While the demographic composition of a television station will vary by show, in radio the “show” is the format programmed by the station. Therefore 24 hours a day/7 days a week, you can predict what kind of demographic is listening to a radio station. Exceptions might include college radio where formats change every 3 hours or so depending on the student DJ or speciality programming such as “Breakfast with the Beatles” weekend mornings on a station not typically running classic rock/oldies or the odd Jazz programming block.

One of the biggest challenges to successfully buying mass media advertising is finding a way to cut through the clutter and finding the ear of an attentive audience. Radio faces the same clutter issues (including Clear Channel despite their ill-advised Less is More initative), but also must contend with a more transitory audience than television does. The length of a show on television is 30 minutes for sitcom, 60 minutes for drama. In radio, the length of a show is only the length of a song. People are more in tune with changing between stations sooner than they are with TV.

Additional issues with constructing an effect radio message include being bound to only having access to the aural senses. Unlike television where producers can create compelling visuals to go with the audio, radio spot producers must rely in the listeners creating visuals in their mind’s eye.

It’s been my experience that purchasing radio is best done in concert with a strong television campaign. Radio can do an excellent job of reinforcing a branding message that was otherwise started. Should an advertiser be restricted to radio only, they would be well advised to talk to their local radio sales rep about finding ways of integrating their advertising messaging with DJ content and making it part of song wrap-arounds as much as possible rather than letting a traffic manager drop their spot in the middle of an extended break.

I hope this short insight into radio buying proves to be helpful to you. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have about your personal experiences in buying radio and what’s worked for you. Of course, if you need help with radio or any other kind of media buy, please give my company a call.

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Written by Jeff York

April 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] addition, there are Radio Ads, and why not, a potentially huge number of potential customers might be listening to the radio […]

  2. […] the past, I’ve written about cutting through the clutter and getting your message heard. Times like these make that task much easier. Fewer messages mean […]

  3. […] a comment » Remember gathering the family together to sit by the old radio and listening to Amos ’n’ Andy, The Adventures of the Thin Man, and Fibber McGee & […]

  4. […] good is a solid, well-crafted message if no one hears it? Putting it into the right channels (tv, radio, etc.) to reach the right demographic is crucial. But if you ever have the chance to talk shop with […]


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