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How Much Does Radio Advertising Cost?

Danny Randell | December 8, 2021

“Radio advertising costs can vary widely, but can be more affordable than other mass media. Prices can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand; mostly dependent on the frequency of your advertisement.”

6 min read

Radio advertising costs can vary widely, but can be more affordable than other mass media. Prices can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand; mostly dependent on the frequency of your advertisement. But there are a few other factors which will impact how much a radio ad is going to cost you too, namely:

  • The length of your ad
  • The time of day (or night) you want to run it
  • Where you are advertising (i.e. local or nationwide)

In general terms, a single 30 second ad could cost you anywhere from $100-$200 on a major station (sometimes less, sometimes more), but you’ll of course need to multiply that cost by the number of times you want to run that ad daily, and for how many weeks you want it to run.

An important thing to take into consideration when discussing the cost of radio advertising is how exactly radio advertising works. Advertising is education, education is repetition, and repetition is the key to winning customers on the radio.

When it comes to how often you want your ad to run, you’ll need to consider the fact that advertisements that run often perform best. For example, ads that run around the clock for a month (e.g. for an event) and year-round a couple of times per day (e.g. for a local, non-seasonal business) create the most familiarity among listeners and as a result, usually see better results.

Why Is Radio Advertising Less Expensive?

Radio advertising is generally less expensive than some other major forms of advertising like billboard posters and TV commercials. One of the main reasons is that radio adverts are inexpensive to produce (as opposed to printing off huge sheets of coloured paper, for example) and the fact that there are so many options in terms of where you can advertise (e.g. local, national, country, rock, talk radio, etc.) which helps give businesses more options in terms of how much they want to spend.

That being said, while apples to apples—a single radio ad is much cheaper than a single TV slot, running a single radio ad is often not advisable as the impact of radio depends on the consistency of your advertising. So while it’s technically less expensive, you can easily spend the same on radio as you would on television.

Does Radio Advertising Still Work?

It might be hard to believe, but even after all these years, radio ads are still very much effective. While the vast majority of listeners are over age 50, all age demographics (92% of Americans in total!) still tune in to the radio. In fact, the number of radio listeners is actually higher than the total number of smartphone users! (Around 81%.)

One thing to note when considering radio advertisement is that, according to 2nd Kitchen, the most successful radio ads cast a wide net, thus targeting a broad audience. For example, everyone needs winter tires when the snow falls, and if you’re a tire shop, you’ll want to tell as many people as possible why they should come to you—it doesn’t really matter where they live or what age category they fall into.

If you’re a business servicing a niche market, mass media marketing like radio may not be the way to go; instead, you may want to try digital ads, which let you narrow down your audience.

The long and short of it is—yes—radio still works, but like all advertising formats, your business needs to make sure it works for you. Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Am I a local business that can target people in my community through radio?
  • Does my company cater to a particular age group that listens to the radio more?
  • Is my business appealing to a large and varied customer base?
  • How much money am I willing to spend?

Determining what your answers to these questions are will help you decide if radio advertising is the right route for your business to go.

So Why Should I Advertise on Radio?

One of the greatest things radio can give your business besides just pure exposure, is legitimacy. There is something we enjoy about familiarity when it comes to dealing with products, services, or businesses that we know; and a business or product we “know” is trustworthy in our minds. Sometimes, just being the business consumers have heard about on the radio makes you the business they recognize and can trust.

4 Quick Reasons To Advertise On Radio

  • Target a wide audience – get more people to hear your ad, for less.
  • Enhance legitimacy – radio is a trusted media.
  • Build familiarity – now when people go to the marketplace, they recognise you.
  • Own the spotlight – your ad is the only one on the speakers at a given time so there’s no contest for people’s attention.

Tracking Radio Ads

When you blast a message out across the airwaves, you’ll want to know how effective it was in order to decide if a radio ad is worth doing again. So how do you do it? While you won’t get the same insights you might from digital ads, there are a couple of ways to measure how well your advert worked:

  • Use a Vanity URL – Picking a unique and memorable domain name (e.g. if you’re a painter, paintyourhomenow.com even though the company’s name may be something else entirely) and setting up a website is an easy way to measure how many people are engaging with your ad. You can set your new page up to include links to your main site; but now you can track the metrics for each site separately to hone in on how many people are visiting your vanity url, and of those, how many are clicking through to your main site.
  • Use a Vanity Phone Number – In the same way, using a unique phone number in your radio ad (e.g. 1-888-PAINT IT) will not only make it easier for listeners to remember how to get in touch with you, but also allow you to measure how many leads are coming in from your ad simply by counting the number of calls you receive to your unique phone number.
  • Ask Customers How They Heard About You – Next time you have a customer in your store, or accept an online order, ask them how they heard about you and see what they say. You can even keep a tally to record where your customers are coming from (e.g. radio, referrals, online, etc.).

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, anytime your company is thinking about advertising, the medium, message, costs and benefits all need to be carefully considered. More than just “make more sales”, the goals you put in place for your ad should be measurable and specific (as specific objectives will help you determine what message you want to get across, and the medium you should use for that message).

Once you know who your audience is and what your goals are, radio is a wide-reaching and effective advertising option that will raise awareness of your business, lend legitimacy to your business, and hopefully, increase your sales.

Special thanks to local radio advertising expert Troy Pachal for his advice on this article.

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