Despite the rise of social media and digital advertising, businesses are still mining traditional radio and television ads to reach their targeted market. However, with so much increased competition for eyeballs, companies must understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of media before committing their advertising resources.
The Basic Elements of Radio and Television Ads
Radios ads are one of the most common ways for businesses to corner the local market. Radios ads are typically broken down into lengths of 60 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds and 10 seconds. The length of a radio commercial is dependent on the message a business wants to convey. Some radio ads of 10 seconds can better communicate an effective message through a familiar jingle, than an ad that lasts a full minute.
Television ads are typically structured in 15-second and 30-second spots, but ads that play during huge events such as the Super Bowl can run as long as 90 seconds. Local ads tend to play for a shorter time and feature lower production values. National commercials can have the look of a feature-length movie and are obviously more expensive because they play in what is known as ‘prime time,’ evening hours during which most audience members are watching their favorite programs.
The Advantages of Radio and Television Ads
The primary advantage of placing radio ads is that you can reach a vast market that is often on the go. According to the Nielsen Company, radio has the greatest reach of all electronic media at 93% of the population, which means that a significant portion of a business’s target audience is available for messaging.
Radio ads are also an affordable way that local businesses can reach their audience. And because a majority of people listen to the radio when they are in their cars, radio ads can spur impulse buying within a local community much more effectively than television ads.
The main advantage of TV advertising is that it offers businesses more creativity and a visual appeal that is not available with radio ads. TV ads also allow businesses to show their products, tell stories about those products, and generate laughter and emotion, without having to tell the audience how to feel.
The Disadvantage of Radio and Television Ads
The primary disadvantage of radio ads is that they lack the visuals that excite and entice an audience via sight alone. Another disadvantage is that although radio has a broader reach than TV, the fact that audiences are often distracted while listening to the radio means that businesses must run ads many more times than they would if they had chosen television.
The main disadvantage of TV ads is that they can be cost-prohibitive, even if companies are targeting the local market. This limits the number of businesses that can run TV ads, leaving many of the national brands as those that dominate ad space. Another drawback is that with the advent of DVR technology and online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, many consumers simply skip TV ads when they play their favorite programs, which limits ad reach.
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.