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Radio Advertising Mini Series: Measuring Your Radio Ad Reach and Frequency

You are certain you want to use radio in your next advertising campaign and you’ve incorporated the 7 best practices for writing effective radio ad copy. Now it’s time to set some goals for your campaign and understand what measuring sticks can be used in radio.

Before you take your radio ad to air, you should establish targeted goals so that you can measure whether it is successful or not, as well as whether it is reaching the right ears. Are you measuring cost per lead, cost per order, or looking to boost website traffic?

One element of radio messaging that advertisers need to keep in mind is broadcast frequency. This refers to the number of times your ad is heard by the average person over the course of a week. The average person needs to hear an advertising message three times per week for it to be memorable. This is called the ‘Frequency of Three.’

For the greatest chance to have your ad hit listeners’ ears three times in a week, you ought to schedule it for broadcast about three times a day (3 x 7 days in a week = 21 plays per week). The suggestion, then, is to adhere to a comprehensive 21/52 schedule: your radio ad broadcasts 21 times per week, for each 52 weeks in a year. This equates to your ad being heard by the average listener roughly three times per week, which is the minimum requirement for the ad to have a lasting effect on your listeners. 

As we alluded to above, it makes perfect sense to use a multi-channel approach to achieve this three-times-per-day sweet spot. And digital marketing is making it easier to measure your reach and frequency for each channel you utilize. That said, each platform will have it’s own dashboards from which to pull data. You can utilize the frequency of three across many channels with the help of organization tactics like media blocking charts to provide a visual representation of when and where your audio ads are scheduled to air. That way, you’re not left hopping from one advertising interface to another trying to pull together reach and frequency information.

How Much Do Radio Ads Cost?

The cost of getting your radio ad to your listeners’ ears can vary greatly. In the traditional sense, the cost of a radio ad really depends on the geographic location where your ad will be broadcast, the number of radio stations within the particular geographic location, and the runtime of your radio ad.

Let’s use a standard 30-second radio ad as an example.

In a smaller city such as Topeka, Kansas, where there are 12 radio stations and a potential listenership of just 126,000 people, a typical 30-second radio ad will cost you around $25 per week.

Meanwhile, in a major metropolis like New York City, there are more than 38 major radio stations and a potential audience of 8.4 million people. This means that getting your radio ad to play across NYC may cost your company roughly $1,405 per week.

However, these rates are constantly evolving and may change depending on how many times in a week you would like your ad to air, as well as the market in which it will be broadcast.

9 Best Practices for Booking Your Radio Advertising Campaign

1. On traditional radio, stick to prime time

2. Schedule your ad broadcasting with a perpetually connected audience in mind

3. Ask for bonus weight on your chosen radio station

4. Consider mixing produced spots with local host endorsements

5. If you use host endorsements, reach out often and make thoughtful gestures

6. Leverage promotional value

7. Treat online streaming as a bonus

8. Ask for interviews

9. Don’t reinvent the wheel

To get the most out of your next radio station buy, and maximize the mileage of your next radio ad campaign, keep these tips front and center:

1. On traditional radio, stick to prime time

Some radio stations may insist on spreading your commercials around the clock. They’ll dangle cheap slots in the wee hours of the night to offset the relatively higher costs of morning and afternoon-drive airings. These periods are referred to as ‘wide rotators,’ but it’s worth knowing that they aren’t always the most effective. Remember that you can ensure you will have a captive audience during certain periods, like the typical commute to and from work. If this is in fact when you know you want to reach your target audience, anything else may be a misuse of your resources.

2. Schedule your ad broadcasting with a perpetually connected audience in mind

While aiming for the prime time slots may occasionally make the most sense for your target audience, it is equally important to consider that your listeners may be tuning in to radio via smart speakers at home in the evening. If this is the case for your target audience, irregular hours that fall outside traditional commute times will work more to your advantage. Nowadays, more people are working from home than ever before, and listening to radio all throughout the day may be a habit that they have formed to help them feel connected with the world outside. A Nielsen study discovered that media consumption actually rises in times of disrupted routines, because “radio and on-air personalities present a connection to the real world that listeners gravitate toward and trust.”

3. Ask for bonus weight on your chosen radio station

Purchasing a certain number of spots over a given period of time can give advertisers leverage to ask for more. Make sure bonus spots air during times that meet your marketing requirements.

4. Consider mixing produced spots with local host endorsements

Some outlets allow local hosts to endorse advertisers’ products and services on air. This is particularly popular when it comes to podcast advertising.

The benefit of the host endorsement spot is that listeners are more likely to actually hear your brand’s spot because it’s being delivered to them mid-show.  You can even look into arranging a deal where a radio or podcast host endorses your product as a segue that leads into your audio ad being played. Getting your brand or product endorsed mid-show in the morning or evening really does heighten your chances of listeners hearing about you.

Also, depending on the talent, this can be a powerful reinforcement of the brand’s value proposition, as listeners who may not otherwise be interested might very well tune in if their favorite host is a fan.

Study the on-air talent roster to better understand who might already be providing on-air endorsements.

5. If you use host endorsements, reach out often and make thoughtful gestures

Building relationships is crucial to establishing powerful campaigns. It heightens what would otherwise be a simple endorsement into a personal message that resonates even more strongly with listeners. It never hurts to be a fan and supporter of the show you’re advertising with.

6. Leverage promotional value

Look to the promotion department to expand the reach of a given campaign. Many stations and podcasts will add promotional consideration in exchange for providing value-in-kind products and services for giveaways, remotes, and other on-site and on-air activities. Negotiate larger multipliers. For example: advertiser provides $1,000 worth of product in exchange for $10,000 in promotional value by entering negotiations with a firm plan.

7. Treat online streaming as a bonus

Many radio stations will ask for additional payment for online streaming. Don’t pay for the privilege. Instead, ask for it as a bonus. Bandwidth is cheap, and unlike conventional ad slots, it doesn’t compete against other commercials for online airtime. Asking for it to be tossed in is an easy win.

8. Ask for interviews

If the podcast or radio show you’re advertising with is structured in a news-talk format, ask for interviews with the hosts. Not all hosts will bite—careful separation of editorial and advertising-based content often precludes such arrangements, while some show formats simply don’t have room for interviews—but it’s worth researching to see if it’s even an option.

9. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Ask for examples of similar advertisers’ successful campaigns, then work with your broadcasting partners to replicate the formula. Keep in mind that different approaches may work differently for individual shows, stations, formats, and markets. Generally, broad understanding of what worked previously under similar circumstances can maximize the potential for a successful campaign.

Radio Advertising is a Relevant and Effective Method For Reaching a Wide, Attentive Audience

Ignore the buzz that asserts radio is on a downward spiral and risks being overtaken by all things digital. The truth is that the spheres of analog and digital media are intersecting more and more. An investment in radio can also be an investment into digital media channels. Though traditional broadcast radio is still important, the medium has done a wonderful job of adapting with the times by growing into online streaming options and more.

So, keep radio in mind when you’re weighing out your promotional channels! There’s no better way to directly connect with a captive audience that trusts and acts upon the vibrant information delivered to them through radio ads.

Bring it all together with the help of Voices Full Serve team. Create an account on Voices and connect with an account manager for support with sourcing talent to help produce your next radio ads.

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