Radio Advertising Questions and Answers

I was emailed these questions about radio advertising the other day the other day…

  • Do you write the promotions?
  • Do you research the reach? Or, have suggestions on where we could push our product?
  • How many ads is good to have in rotation?
  • How many people can we reach?
  • What time of the day is best to run our ads?
  • Cost/per ad during the week?
  • How many times will this run throughout the week and/or on weekends?

All great questions. And usually the answers to those questions are the core materials in any media rep’s presentation. Which is why their ad campaigns will probably fail. At Results Radio, our “presentations” are a bit different. We focus on figuring out how we’re going to make your advertising actually work.

So, let’s add a couple questions to that list above that are more important…

  1. How will we make it work? (what’s our strategy?)
  2. How will we measure success?

These are more important because the other questions above won’t matter, if we’re not going into this campaign with the expectations of making it work… and knowing that it’s working. Right?

Let’s answer those questions up top first though

Do you write the promotions? Yes we do. At Results Radio, that’s what we train on most heavily. The words that are written and then spoken that go into people’s ears are what makes or breaks an ad campaign. And that is why we spend so much time figuring out what to say in your ads. Because that’s the core of making your ads work for you.

Do you research the reach or have suggestions on where to push our product? I’ll have to clarify this question with the business, but I think they’re asking something about demographics. Yes, we suggest the stations that will work best based on the people you’re looking for. But you need to understand that particular stations don’t own an audience. Meaning, most people listen to an average of 2.5 stations. For example, if you’re looking for “car parts type of people”, aka motorheads or “truck people”… can you imagine the different types of radio stations they could be listening to? Sports, Classic Rock, Modern Rock, Top 40, 80s, 90s, Modern Country, Classic Country, Talk Radio, etc., etc., etc.!

So, you pick a couple that seem like a good fit, and you start there. Or whatever works with your budget. And if you can’t afford to buy enough ads to run each month on the biggest of the stations, then you pick a station with a smaller audience that you can afford to talk to month-in and month-out. You’re trying to win a group of people over, one station at a time. Once you start seeing growth, then you can afford to add another radio station to your mix.

How many ads is good to have in rotation? You can air multiple ads that rotate at whatever percentage you wish. Most businesses don’t need to rotate different ads at the same time, but if you have a few different products to push… maybe you rotate 2 or 3 at once. But you also have to make sure you have enough ads airing each week in order for everyone to hear each of those ads enough times.

How many people can we reach? You can reach about 90% of the adults in the radio stations’ coverage areas if you’re advertising on enough stations. But that doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them. Remember when I said the average listener listens to 2.5 radio stations? Well, that means if you advertise on 2 radio stations, you’re theoretically advertising on about 5 stations. Cool, right? When it comes to actual numbers… there are some ratings out there on most stations. But the thing is… the number of people that are surveyed for radio station ratings is very low. Like, grossly low. So, the level of accuracy is low. So, one year a station can be listed as the #2 rock station, and the next it’s #8. How does that work when nothing else changed in the radio market in the last year? Radio rankings are hit or miss. There’s a disclaimer on those rankings that mentions something like, “use these ratings at your own risk”.

How many people are we reaching? It all depends on the popularity of the station. It could be anywhere between 5000 people to 40 or 50,000 people depending on the station… and the time frames in which you’re running those ads. If you’re only running ads during a morning “drive time”… you’re only reaching a fraction of that total audience.

What time of the day is best to run our ads? You want to reach the entire audience if you can afford it. And it costs less per ad to run ads all throughout the day. You can never predict when someone is listening. We all have different habits when it comes to radio listening. Some listen from 6 to 7:30 every morning. And then not again until 2pm or 5pm. Others listen periodically throughout the day, some all day long at work. Others only when in their cars. That’s why it’s a fool’s errand to only want to run ads during certain times of the day. You’ll pay more for the ads, and you’re hitting a smaller audience in the end.

Cost per ad during the week? This depends on the popularity of the radio station, the length of the ad, and the time frame they are airing. We’ll have a discussion about actual prices face-to-face.

But let me drop this little nugget on you… It doesn’t matter how much an ad costs if it doesn’t work. Even the cheapest ads are still expensive if you don’t see any results.

How many times will this run throughout the week and/or on weekends? My recommendation for “ad frequency” depends on your competition and your “share of marketing voice” within your industry. If you’re placing ads all throughout the day (let’s say 6am to 8pm), then you’ll need anywhere from 19 to 25 ads per week… at least 3 weeks per month if we’re trying to brand your business (make you the business people think of first in your category). But if your business category has a lot of competition advertising, then you need to adjust your ad load a bit higher to make sure your “share of voice” is high enough to make an impact on the radio listeners. You don’t want to be “drowned out” by your competitor’s ads.

So, those are my basic answers to those questions… but they aren’t comprehensive by any means. The questions asked in a face-to-face meeting and extra research on how much local marketing their competition is doing, gives much more insight into the radio scheduling tactics that would need to be implemented.

But you must know… the actual MESSAGE that we put into the ears of the radio listeners is what will ultimately determine the success of a radio advertising campaign. If the radio script that is written is just an afterthought… your radio marketing plan will fail. No doubt about it. But if enough time, research, and thought is put into the writing… “mountains” can be moved.

And… I’ll address those two questions I added to the list…… next time. 🙂

Thanks for reading. Have a groovy day!

Duane Christensen

Results Radio / Townsquare Media

Sioux Falls, SD