How to Reduce the Cost of Radio Advertising

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While radio advertising costs may run higher than many other newer advertising methods, it still remains a force to reckon with in the marketing realm. According to research done by Nielsen, radio reaches 93% of all American adults weekly.

You need to leverage on those numbers to give your brand the exposure it needs to drive growth and generate revenue. Is there a way for you to buy radio ads on a budget? 

Well, yes there is actually. In this article, we explore some valuable tips you can use to reduce the cost of radio advertising while still making your mark. Read on.


1. Reduce Cost of Radio Advertising by Running Shorter Ads

Time is money when advertising on the radio. But it doesn’t necessarily work the way you think. Radio ads are typically sold and priced based on a 60-second commercial spot.

However, it doesn't mean that a 30-second ad costs half of a 60-second slot. It might be cheaper but not to a proportionate amount.

In most cases, you'll find that it costs 80 to 85 percent cheaper than a full minute slot. The reason behind this is simple.

Listeners are generally less annoyed by shorter duration ads than they are by the longer ones. 

However, studies show that minute-long radio commercials are generally a lot more effective in getting your brand message out than using shorter-running commercials.

It gives you an opportunity to tell your story and even more chances to repeat your brand name and CTA. Nonetheless, if you’re working with a smaller radio advertising budget you might want to consider using “blink ads” or “billboards” instead.

These are 5-second long name mentions of your brand. If you can squeeze in your message in this slot and get it out quickly, you’ll get more bang for your buck in advertising dollars.


2. Frequency of the Radio Ad

The frequency of a radio ad and the reach of the radio ad, mean two completely different things. Frequency denotes the number of times in a day that you want to run your ad.

Reach on the other hand refers to the number of people you are targeting with radio advertising. A higher ad frequency doesn’t automatically translate to a higher reach.

To paint a picture, assume that you’re running a radio ad to market a new brand of beer. You run the ad ten times a day while targeting an audience that consists primarily of teetotalers.

While you may have achieved a high frequency, this doesn’t mean that your ad has achieved its desired reach. We will cover this in the next section of this article.

Once you target your ideal audience, most marketers agree that three is the magic number. The idea behind this is that if an individual hears your radio ad at least three different times, your brand is more likely to leave a lasting impression on them.

This isn't a scientifically proven fact, but if you're on a limited advertising budget, it serves as a great starting point. In addition to this, you also need to pay attention to the spacing of your ads.

If you decide to run three ads, make sure that the timing between one ad and the next isn’t too far apart. A higher ad frequency over a short duration of time is more effective than the same frequency spread over a longer duration. If you want to drive your message home, you need to deliver it with the highest potency possible.


3. Get the Highest Reach Possible

When thinking about how to advertise on the radio the first thing you need to consider is how to target the highest number of radio listeners possible in your specific niche market. Remember our earlier example of the beer ad?

You want to make sure that only the people who have the highest potential to convert are the ones who hear your ad. So start off by vetting stations based on their principal listenership before you advertise on radio.

Does your chosen radio station have the kind of listeners that are more or less in line with your existing clientele? When doing your homework, request each station executive to provide you with verifiable proof of the quality of their audience.

This should be in the form of up-to-date research they’ve conducted. That way you can be sure that you’re not flushing valuable advertising dollars down the drain.


4. Stay Away from Prime Time Ads

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you have a limited radio advertising budget, you should aim for Run of Station commercials or ROS for short. These are essentially lower price rotating spots that have a huge window of airtime with no guarantee whatsoever of the time when your ad will air.

To put this into perspective, a ROS commercial might run anytime between 6 a.m. and midnight. On the other hand, the most expensive times to run radio ads are during the morning and afternoon “drive-time” hours.

These are the times when most people are commuting to and from their homes. However, if you have superior negotiating skills, you can exercise this super-power to get prime time commercials at a lower rate.


5. Do Cross-Promotions with Other Advertisers

Talk to your radio station sales representative and find out if there are any other advertisers who might be interested in running cross-promotions. This is an arrangement where each advertiser agrees to mention the other advertiser within their ad.

For instance, let’s say a particular supermarket carries your product line. A cross-promotional advertising arrangement would have them advertise a discount on those particular products in their store.

Similarly, your advert would promote the store by mentioning that they're offering a discount on your products. This increases both parties’ airtime and exposure while simultaneously driving sales.

It’s a great way to reduce your radio advertising budget. Nevertheless, each radio marketing method has its associated pros and cons. You can read more here to learn about them.


The Bottom Line

Despite the emergence of other on-demand advertising mediums, radio remains a very powerful marketing tool. It reaches a wide audience that cuts across a myriad of customers and age groups.

Even with a limited radio advertising budget, you can still use the medium effectively to boost your business and raise your bottom line. Use the tips in this article to lower the cost of radio advertising and make the most of your marketing campaign.

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