top of page


MSC AGENCY 1020x1020-3-v1.png

How to Grow Your Business Using Radio Advertising

While a lot of businesses are focused on utilizing digital marketing for growth, radio advertising is still an effective traditional marketing strategy you may want to explore.

There’s no question about it: digital marketing continues to trend upward as one of the most preferred marketing strategies to use. While that is true, radio ads can still be effective as millions of people here in the U.S. still listen to radio. With recent tech advancements, radio advertisements have a much higher quality now versus years ago. While radio does compete with other forms of advertising, Nielson Audio reports 243 million people listen to the radio: that sounds like a lot of opportunity.

Formats for Radio Stations

One thing you need to understand before you jump into radio advertising is radio station formats. The format is going to determine the specific audience segment the station appeals to and the audience it delivers to advertisers.

Here’s a list of the most common radio formats:

  • Top 40

  • Today FM

  • Adult hits

  • Progressive rock

  • Alternative

  • Classic rock

  • Hip hop/urban

  • World news

  • Golden oldies

  • Christian rock

  • News and talk radio

  • Classical

  • Adult contemporary

  • Easy listening

Which Format Is Best for Each Demographic

The format of each station impacts which group is typically the core demographic that a station will reach. The following will give you an idea of which format targets which type of listener.

  • Teens 12-17: Primarily top 40, urban, alternative

  • Adults 18-24: Top 40, alternative, urban preference

  • Adults 25-34: Alternative, rock, top 40, urban, adult contemporary

  • Adults 35-44: Rock, adult contemporary

  • Adults 45-54: Oldies, adult contemporary

  • Adults 55-64: Classical, new adult contemporary

  • Adults 65+: Adult standards, classical, news/talk

What Are Radio Spots and What You Need to Know

Radio spots are another term used for radio advertisements. This is what businesses buy to advertise their brand to listeners. Radio advertising is usually divided into three categories:

  • Live read

  • Sponsorship

  • Produced spot

Those businesses who want to promote their products and services need to choose the type of radio advertisement they want to pay for.

A radio station has an ad time inventory of about 18 minutes per hour, which it sells in increments of 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these categories and what makes them unique.

(1) Live Read

Live read is most commonly used at events. The commentators at the event would perform live reads, read the brand aloud, and hope that the product’s quick advertising will reach more people. Radio hosts that are well known and have a big following also can be hired to live-read an advertisement.

(a) Onsite Broadcasting Events

When you scale back to regional and local radio hosts, many of these personalities are quite popular. Many people follow them and have an affinity for listening to certain on-air personalities. Many times radio stations will offer onsite events to their advertisers. This includes the on-air personality coming to the business location and broadcasting live to try and get fans to come to the business.

(2) Sponsorships

Sponsorship is another type of radio advertising usually inserted into traffic, weather, or sports segments within a show. For example, the announcer will tell the listeners that a certain brand sponsored the segment. This type of advertising is usually used for branding purposes and can help increase name recognition.

(3) Traditional Produced Spots

One more radio advertising type is known as "produced spots." These are full radio advertisements that use stories, jingles, dialogue, and even voice actors. These would labeled as information advertisements; they encourage listeners to buy the products and services being advertised.

How Much Do Radio Ads Cost?

Naturally, you want to know how much radio ads cost. There’s a number of different ways that radio stations can determine the price of their radio ads, including:

  • Specific demographics of the radio station’s audience

  • Specific demand for the radio advertisement

  • The amount of people that listen to your ad

  • CPM rates

While any of these can determine a radio ad cost, the majority of them will likely focus in on the CPM rates. There’s a simple equation you can use:

Amount of Peopl