What are radio dayparts? If you’ve ever heard the terms “prime-time”, “morning drive” or “late-night”, you already have some idea of what it is.

In a nutshell, radio dayparting is simply the practice of dividing the broadcast day into several parts.

An example would be something like this:

Morning drive: 6 am to 10 am

Daytime: 10am to 3pm

Afternoon drive: 3 pm to 7 pm

Nighttime: 7pm to 12pm

Overnight: 12pm to 6am

Dayparting makes programming and advertising easier, but historically it also served a purpose with regards to censorship. Songs that were deemed inappropriate for younger listeners were played only during the evening or overnight hours. This is a rule that still applies today; there are less stringent decency requirements for programming that airs between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.

In this article, we’ll be discussing radio daypart’s pertinence to advertising. For brands, it makes sense to buy space in a part of the day where you know your target audience will be tuning in. However, you might not know of a certain time slot wherein people are now making key decisions. 

But first, didn’t TV (and the internet) kill the radio star?

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In short, no.

People will always love music, with its ability to capture emotions and spark memories. And people love radio; it’s a dependable, accessible medium that delivers local content and provides entertainment even when we’re busy with other things.

We love that radio is available in while we work, while we drive to and from work, when we’re dropping our kids off at school, back home when we’re doing house chores and even when we’re surfing the internet.

Sure, the advent of myriad other entertainment options has threatened the survival of radio.

radio dayparts for radio ads

But surely we can also agree that there is a certain comfort that comes with knowing that a familiar voice and familiar music is available simply at the turn of a dial.

That’s also why most brands will still maintain radio advertising as part of their marketing plan.

Radio is a versatile medium with a captive audience.

Advertising on radio is a cost-effective means for brands to disseminate their messages.

One advantage is reach – radio is probably the only medium that’s reaching consumers throughout the day, multiple times a day; which means that radio has a much greater reach than TV or mobile.

Another is cost – it’s cheaper to produce a voice-only ad as opposed to a piece of visual content. It’s possible to buy multiple ads at reasonable prices and having them play more often as well.

Yet another is audience targeting and segmentation – you already have some kind of idea as to what kind of audience listens to the Rock n’ Roll station. Who listens to the Oldies station. And who is likely to tune in to the Top of the Charts.

Finally, the audience is also captive – if they’re in the car and tuned in to the morning drive, the audience is pretty much not going anywhere (until they get to where they’re going!)

How do brands capitalize on radio?

Radio is really flexible; so if you’re new to radio marketing, you’d want to brush up on your knowledge of radio dayparts. Decide which daypart to select by determining which customer you’re targeting.

Think: are you promoting a sale? You might want to target listeners during the morning drive, where there’s a chance they’ll hear you on their drives to work and tell their friends.

Are you promoting services for a factory worker? It might be beneficial for you to be aware of shift-changing times.

What if you’re promoting a weekend event? Maybe it would be best to put more of your budget into Thursdays and Fridays when people are already thinking about what to do for the weekend.

Evenings have some of the most loyal listeners, where people tune in to listen to their favorite DJ. If your customer demographic coincides with a DJ’s loyal listener list, then you might do well to advertise during their daypart.

You don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Radio advertising works best when the same message is heard for a repeated number of times. Most people have to hear a commercial several times before they connect. People also flip through channels and stations. That’s why repetition is key; repeat your message in the same time slot numerous times for the best effect.

What you choose to run is important as well. Make sure your script is short, catchy and memorable, and remember to always mix in some music. The message should be really simple. Don’t be afraid to repeat a key phrase and to mention your company name at the beginning and end of the radio spot. Locations, calls to actions and phone numbers can also be repeated.

Here’s a handy guide on how to craft a radio ad script like a pro. 

When it comes to dayparts, prime time is generally considered the best time to be advertising, being that people are driving and hence, are captive audiences. However, if your strategy revolves solely around prime time, there may be an important daypart you’re missing out on.

Did you know about the working daypart?

We’d now like to call your attention to the working daypart (if you’re not already savvy to it).

People are working longer hours than ever before, but interestingly, we are also happier. This is in part because of how we spend our workdays. Work may no longer be 9-5 but people are no also no longer just doing work at work.

With the internet, many of us working grunts are banking, running personal errands, going shopping for necessities and indulgences and even planning for big purchases and vacations during working hours. Our bosses may not know it (or they’re doing it themselves, as well), but we’re putting aside time during our working hours to conduct brand research, comparing prices, then making purchases.

radio dayparts for audio ads

And it’s a trend that should catch no-one by surprise.

The internet is a gateway to information. Brands are now putting all available product information online. All you need is a computer or a mobile, and these devices are ubiquitous.

The office is a relatively quiet space where we can focus on what they need to do without distraction.

It’s a place where we can share information, with like-minded peers. If you have a workplace, you’ve definitely made a purchase decision or checked out an event or learned of a certain brand from a colleague.

According to a 2017 Office Pulse study:

  • 88% go online for personal needs
  • 78% go shopping (online or in-store)
  • 72% run errands

And this is a trend that cuts across a variety of advertising categories, including automotive, travel, technology and banking.

So what does this mean for advertisers, in particular those who are advertising on radio?

It means you should be spending some, if not most of your advertising budget on the working daypart if you are selling personal products and services.

It only makes sense; people are using their work hours to complete purchases of products and services. They are surfing the net, comparing prices and information. Every minute, they are inching closer to sealing the deal.

Why wouldn’t you want to get your message out at this crucial point in the consumer journey, when people are conducting valuable research and making various purchasing decisions?

The radio is always on at most workplaces, whether its an office, a nail salon, a factory or a construction site. Prime time may be a great time, but the working time may be even better.

If you’re on the radio when people are tuning in, this maximizes your chances of being heard at a time where people are researching, shopping and spending.

And that’s a great place to be!