Advantages & Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

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Compared to other media used by advertisers, radio offers affordability, wide reach, target audience selectivity and timely message delivery. However, poor attentiveness and fragmentation, a lack of visual appeal and complex national buying processes are common challenges. Before you commit your budget to radio, you'll need to carefully consider its pros and cons.

Advantage: Affordability

To make a dent in radio, you typically buy a package that runs for at least a month. The cost of ad spots and packages varies greatly by location, but expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 per week in cities or metro areas, according to Entrepreneur. Campaigns in smaller local markets may run as low as several hundred dollars per month. Relative to television and other media used to reach a large audience, radio is cost-efficient.

Advantage: Wide Reach and Audience Targeting

The ability to schedule ad spots throughout the week at various times of day allows for wide local reach. The ability to advertising regionally and nationally enhances the reach for companies with broader geographic offerings. In the same vein, radio is among the best media at enabling target audience selectivity. Format and music genre greatly influence the types of people that listen to stations. Before buying spots, you get access to statistics that detail average listeners per hour with demographic breakdowns. This data allows you to select the right market for your message.

Advantage: Timely Message Delivery

Placement flexibility is an advantage of radio. You can have a message produced and presented to the market within a few decisions from your decision to buy. Stations often include production costs in with package purchases, according to Entrepreneur.

Disadvantage: Poor Attentiveness and Fragmentation

Among the disadvantages of radio advertising, a primary drawback is that people listening to it are often engaged in other activities, such as driving. Therefore, you don't normally get the same level of attention and engagement with your ad as you might through other media. It can take many impressions before a listener actually hears your message.

Disadvantage: Lack of Visual Appeal

Whereas television, the other prominent broadcast medium, has multi-sensory appeal, radio can only impact your audience through sound. You don't have imagery to play with. It takes very talented copywriters to instill theater of the mind with the listening audience.

Disadvantage: Complex National Buying Processes

Buying radio advertising for regional or national campaigns gets a bit chaotic. Large media conglomerates often own stations throughout the country; but they are fragmented across regions. Therefore, national advertisers sometimes have to buy spots through multiple regional stations rather than through one national station.

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About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.