Despite all the changes in the last decade in how Americans access music, AM/FM radio is still the most cost-effective, top reach advertising medium today. It's an inexpensive way to reach your existing and potential customers. Traditional radio stations will always have something that digital media and radio apps don't: they're local.
Why Local Makes a Difference in Radio Advertising
Despite the attraction of digital radio stations like Pandora and Spotify, hometown radio stations still connect to local consumers with (often) live broadcasts, familiar on-air personalities, and local in-person promotions. Who doesn't have a favorite radio station they tune into every day? The reasons for these choices usually go beyond the music or other station programming. It's the familiar voices, the local news, and people talking about what's going on in their community.
For advertisers, this offers an enormous opportunity. Consumers like to "buy local." That's why they turn to advertisers featured on their local radio stations. Buying local helps support the local economy and the people who live and work in the same neighborhoods. Buying local also gives consumers the advantage of having someone local to call if they have a question or concern after their purchase.
Radio's Reach for Advertisers
According to Wikipedia:
"Reach refers to the total number of different people or households exposed, at least once, to a medium during a given period."
For radio advertising, that given period is one week. To build reach with a radio campaign, it's a good idea to advertise consistently over a long period of time. And do so several times per day at peak listening hours, like the morning drive or during popular programs - such as the Dave Ramsey Show, or the CMT Top 20 Countdown. You can maximize reach by advertising on several radio stations - just be careful not to dilute frequency. For more on the topic, check out this article for an in-depth guide to maximizing reach and frequency.
Even consumer behavior indicates they believe in the power of radio's reach, because 93 percent listen to the radio each week. That's even higher than smartphone use! While a portion of that audience is tuning into digital stations, the vast majority of listeners are opting for a traditional AM or FM station. This is especially true of drive-time listeners. Approximately 82 percent of consumers listen to traditional radio at least once a week.
And don't think it's just the "older folks" who still listen to the radio. 95 percent of Millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) are reached every single month by radio.
But why? Why is AM/FM radio listened to so much? They're all platforms for consuming music, so why does radio get so much of our ear-time?
Because it's local. None of the other music sources in that graph have a local connection.
Pandora can't tell you what's happening in your community.
YouTube can't deliver the local weather forecast.
SiriusXM doesn't have announcers who you can meet in-person at local events.
Being local is the biggest differentiator between AM/FM radio and everything else.
Is Radio Advertising Effective?
Short answer? Yes. No other medium can reach such a broad cross section of potential customers as radio can. In addition to the audience, there's the attention factor. Being able to place your company's marketing message in front of a consumer for 30 (or 60) seconds is a gold mine. Compare this to the few seconds the average web browser spends on a single web page.
Repetition also helps your local radio ad be more effective. While that web browser may never return to that web page, he or she will likely hear your radio ad multiple times. And, of course, repetition enforces recognition.
While the glitz and novelty surrounding online radio stations can make it seem that such stations are taking over the market, the truth is that local radio is still as relevant as ever and offers small business owners a way to reach a lot of people without spending all of their marketing budget.