As online platforms continue to advance and acquire more users, Audio Ads now substitute Radio Ads as the prime marketing go-to for all audio advertising. But how do these two advertising platforms match up against each other?

Buckle up and get ready for our Full Guide on Audio Ads vs Radio Ads.

But before we start…

If you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:

This post has been updated in August 2021.

A Little Context

At first glance, you might not consider audio ads as an effective advertising form.

However, according to this report by Adweek, there is no form of advertising that is as effective as audio ads – it all boils down to neuroscience and long term memory relationships with music.

And here is where an amazing opportunity lies.

Some interesting stats about Audio Ads:

  • Did you know people listen to audio for about 4 hours per day? (that’s 1/4 of our awake lives)
  • As of 2016, Audio Streaming has become a weekly habit for about 50% of Americans?

Crazy right? For the full Pandora report, click here.

Young millennials, in particular, are the first demographic to spend as much time listening to digital audio as they do traditional radio. Radio though, as old-fashioned as it may seem, still reaches a staggering 93% of the population between 12 and 54, who tune in weekly, according to this ExactDrive report.

So in a world where audio streaming is growing, but radio remains (incredibly) relevant, a question emerges:

audio advertising vs radio advertising

Which of these two is king? Which is the best? Which should you use?


In this full Audio Ads vs Radio Ads guide, we’ll start by establishing what each of them is exactly, and what their main differences and similarities are. Then, we’ll see how and what you need to create both of them. And finally, we’ll arrive at our conclusion.

If you’d like to get there right away, then click here or if you want a one-sentence conclusion, then know that: audio ads are the natural evolution of radio ads. 

Radio Ads

If you think radio, you will inevitably think radio advertising too. Surely there is some jingle or ad you remember very well from your childhood.

A once catchy jingle, that might quickly turn annoying, the fact is that you’ve probably been listening to radio advertising your entire life. In fact, radio advertising goes as far back as 1893.

What are Radio Ads?

Radio advertising or Radio Ads is a form of advertising which uses the radio as its main medium.

Most radio ads can fall into one of the three following categories.

  • Live Reads are when you can hear commercials read in real-time by the radio announcer.
  • Sponsorships, as their name would say it, basically tell the listeners about a business that is sponsoring a show or a  particular section of it.
    Something along the lines of:
    “This segment was brought to you by Toyota. Toyota, your guide to anywhere”.
  • Produced spots are any sort of advertising efforts that require at least some production to get done. They can have multiple voices, sound efforts or even a jingle.

What are Radio Ads Used For?

Similarly to how advertising is used in television, the main goal of radio advertising is to persuade the listener to buy a product or service.

Let’s write an example, in the traditional rhythm and style of radio advertising, to see what we are talking about here:

“Toothaches are no laughing matter.
You know toothaches: the throbbing pain in your jaw, the sleepless nights, the long unbearable days.

Dr. Luong’s tried and tested care will get rid of your toothache in a hurry, at an accessible price.
If you need affordable dental care, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Luong.
Call now at 647-443-0127 to schedule a free consultation.”

Audio Ads

As we’ve previously stated, audio ads are making strides in the market. It’s changing how things are being done.

Here are a couple of eye-opening stats:

  • According to this blogpost from MarketingDrive, audio ad revenue grew to $2.3 billion in 2018 in the United States, up 27% from 2017.
  • The UK alone has an impressive 22.3 million people listening to audio ads per week in 2017 (that’s a 40% increase) from 2014 – according to this blogpost from RadioWorks.

And also consider that these stats are a bit outdated.

  • This Emarketer’s report is confident that 1/3 of the US population will listen to digital audio formats at least once per month this year.

So get ready for audio ads, as this seems to be what the future brings.

But before…

What are Audio Ads?

An Audio ad is a form of advertising which is present in an audio format, predominantly used in an online audio platform such as podcasts, online radio, or music streaming services.

What are Audio Ads Used For?

Audio ads have similar uses to traditional radio advertising, meaning persuading users to purchase a product or service, but due to its online nature, audio ads have the upper hand.

Being in online platforms, this means that there is data in the mix. This makes audio ads specific and incredibly targeted to a specific demographic.

Let’s write down a straightforward version to see these new rhythms of advertising:

“Hi! This is Luong the Rapper, and you’re listening to my new single ‘ToothAche!
Straight from my latest release ‘Tooth Doctor’.
Click the banner now, to listen to my new album, right here on Spotify.”

As the audio is going, the musician’s song is playing in the background as well. You have probably heard several of these when listening to music online.

What are the Main Similarities and Differences?

Radio ads and audio ads are similar, but in general, audio ads take things one step further.

This is, of course, no coincidence. As with many data-driven technologies nowadays, the amount of information to back up decisions make audio ads seem like radio ads with superpowers.

Let’s check them out to see what this means.


  • Intention: They both do advertising and seek to sell products or services.
  • Format: Both rely on audio format to be delivered.
  • Delivery: Whether it’s a voice actor or commenter, the person who will deliver it will have to know his stuff.
  • Structure: For the most part, both audio and radio ads follow a similar setup:
    • Set up a problem.
    • Establish empathy.
    • Show how the problem can be solved.
    • End with a call to action, stating what you want your listener to do.
  • Length: Another important similarity is length. The average audio ad is about 30 seconds long. On occasions, however, it may go up to about 60 seconds.


  • Platform: Audio ads are primarily online content, while radio ads are both found online and on traditional radio.
  • Tone: Usually, audio ads tend to be more conversational than their radio counterparts, the reason being that these ads need to be sprinkled into what is being listened to.
    People aren’t used to advertising through online platforms, there has been a slower rollout than in traditional media – think of how long Youtube ads used to be, versus how long they are today.
    On the other hand, radio ads will usually be more urgent in tone, competing for a listener’s attention on the radio. Think of someone working on his laptop with headphones on, encountering some audio ads and someone driving a car and listening to radio ads clawing for his attention.
  • Mediums: The different mediums are a key difference. Audio ads can be found in all sorts of platforms providing all kinds of services to listeners. Radio is a bit more mainstream in this regard, but online audio runs a broad gamut of diversity.
  • Specificity: Audio ads tend to be more specific and efficient than radio ads. This is because audio ads in online platforms are directed at groups of listeners in particular and thus yield a better return to the company investing in such advertising. Radio ads, on the other hand, are more general, reaching a broad audience tuning in, but without discerning who they are.

How to Make Radio Ads and Audio Ads

Both radio ads and audio ads, in general, have an overall similar methodology to them. We won’t dive into many details, but here is the overall gist of this process.

If you want to create an effective (emphasis on effective) Audio or Radio Ad, there is a little more than meets the eye. Sure, you could simply grab a microphone and say whatever comes to mind, but how effective will it be?

The truth is, in order for them to be effective, you need to do some research and be methodological.

Do you need one for yourself or your company? Check our Audio ad production services and get an instant quote. We take care of everything.


We’ve divided this into 3 basic steps for you to follow:

Step #1: Prepare

You need to know who you are talking to and what you want to say.

  • Purpose: First of all, define the intention of your ad. Define the ‘why’? Also, is it a soft, medium, or hard sell? Soft is merely suggestive, medium asks for business but not forcefully, hard has a sense of urgency.
  • Audience and Placement: It is essential to know your demographic well. That will determine the voice you use. Be sure to always write the copy with your audience in mind.
    Some elements to figure out your audience: gender, race, ethnicity, age, income, geographical location, level of education, job, etc.
  • Message: Focus on your message and drive it home as much as you possibly can; cut to chase as early as possible; lead with what’s most important and edit all that you can. In short: keep it simple!

Step #2: Deliver

So you know what to say, now it’s time to define how it should be transmitted.

  • Tone: Is it going to be conversational? Formal? Aloof or urgent? The more you know your audience will determine how friendly or serious is the voice you want to use. That will also influence the music, background sound, special effects, etc.
    All this will create a particular mood which will best serve the service or product you are putting forward – so choose what’s best for those that will be listening to you.
  • Delivery: Usually, people will naturally speak at around 2.5 words per second. So that’s what you will be aiming at if you have a conversational style ad. Most ads will be about 30 seconds long; Spotify, for example, limits them to this length, meaning your script would be around 75 words.
  • Call to Action: What do you want your listeners to do, exactly? Be clear and precise. Do you want them to call, go to an address, say it clearly and end on that note.

audio ads vs radio ads and what you need to know

Step #3: Improve

An often overlooked step in the whole advertising process. But you need to remember: advertising involves experimentation and constant iteration so you have to remember to keep track and give proper feedback.

  • Tracking: Being able to see the impact of your ad in a particular target group is of the essence. Audio platforms have a very specific understanding of who is listening and metrics generated.
    Keeping an eye out on how your ad is going will point to the adjustments needed.
  • Feedback: What worked and what didn’t work will help you craft more effective ads in the future. The main goal is to constantly improve.

<If you’d like to know how to write the perfect Audio Ad Script, then click here>


Which is Better?

Let’s attempt to solve the crux of the matter: Which type of advertising, a radio ad, or audio ad, is best?

Even though some opinions might be split, we consider that audio ads are the newer version of radio ads. The Netflix to the cable companies a little while ago.

Audio ads are the response from the audio industry that is becoming data-driven. Nevertheless, both have their uses, but if radio ads were the dominant force once, now the future belongs to audio ads.

To support our conclusion, here are some points to consider:

  • The online audio market is growing exponentially, platforms are evolving, along with marketing methodologies (market segmentation and demographic targeting are constantly being fine-tuned).
  • Spending on audio ads is growing. According to this report by MarketingLanding, the total spending on podcast ads is expected to double to $1.6 billion by 2022.
    This means that many brands are considering to sponsor a podcast or start one altogether dedicated to marketing their product in a creative way.
  • The platforms in which audio ads have been growing exponentially. Nowadays, audio ads may appear on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Buzzsprout, Podbean, Apple Music, SoundCloud, YouTube, and others.
  • Audio ads are becoming more available. A little while ago, audio ads were available for large companies with big enough pockets. This has changed dramatically, as small and medium businesses can acquire them now.
    Take SpotifyforBrands (the advertising platform from Spotify) and the efforts they have been doing to make this available to every one of us.
  • Audio ads respond to portability. Audio ads are great for mobile use. It makes sense, people listen to the radio, while they commute, while they travel. Traditional radio may prove to be a bit more cumbersome.
  • Audio ads are targeted. Because audio ads are targeted to particular listeners, they can be more effective than blanket catch-all ads on the radio.
  • Audio ads are data-driven. An audio ad allows you to know many things about the potential listeners, as companies understand and embrace their market. Spotify, for example, will enable you to learn everything about the audience, ranging from age, gender, location, and type of music listened.


Which Should I Choose: Audio Ads vs Radio Ads

Let’s end with a simple rule of thumb to choose between audio ads and radio ads.

If you have a more general product, which means one that is useful for a wide variety of people, then choose the traditional route: radio advertising. This is especially true if you don’t know (or don’t care) who your target audience is.

Think of a radio ad for a large chain of supermarkets.

However, if you have a specific need for a particular demographic, go with audio ads. And most importantly, if you already know who this demographic is, then there’s no use in spending extra money on people that won’t buy.

In this case, think of an audio ad for a specific alternative-rock music festival you want to promote.

But if you don’t fall into one of these two categories, then audio ads will, in general, be the better choice for the XXIst century. Both in terms of marketing and advertising, audio ads stand stronger than radio ads, as their personalization is not only more target-specific but more cost-effective.

This is what makes audio ads, today, the king of audio advertising, so keep them in mind for your next campaign, as they take their place as the natural evolution of the once almighty radio advertising.


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