The advances in digital technology have seen a proliferation of innovative media over the last two decades. From social media, online video, blogs, infographics, websites to live chat, there’s no shortage in the variety of media advertisers can use today.

Despite this prominence of digital media, radio remains one of the most powerful communication tools. A 2019 Nielsen Report shows radio reaches 92% of the population in a week; stumping social media, apps, eCommerce sites, search sites, sports sites and other advertising platforms.  

If you are a marketer or an organization seeking to reach a mass audience, radio ads should be at the core of your marketing mix. A professionally produced radio spot should inspire the imagination of your target audience more than any digital media can do.

Radio reaches target consumers at any time of day, even when they’re away from home. Your target customers will also tune in on the go and close to the point of purchase.

But is radio advertising worth the cost? To answer this critical question, you have to understand the costs that go into radio commercials production. This guide explores radio ads in detail with an emphasis on effectiveness and cost of this form of advertising.

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This post has been updated in October 2021.

The ‘How’ of Radio Commercial Production 

On average most radio commercials are less than a minute long. However, this belies the technical work that goes into production before it airs. As a marketer, you need to plan for every stage of the radio commercial in your strategy. This breakdown of the production into phases will help during the budgeting process.

Some of the crucial steps involved in radio ad production include:

1. Planning Phase 

This is the stage at which you set the goals for your production. It is an essential step because it guides the overall production process, including the budgeting. Your goal can be to drive web traffic, brand awareness, the launch of your company in a new market or any other.

At this point, you should also carry out extensive research of the market, identify your audience, create personas, determine your audience’s preferences and identify the radio ad tracking process.

2. Pre-production

Now that you know what you want in your radio ad and the target audience, it’s time to identify an established radio ads company/radio station. The quality of your radio commercial will depend on the professionals you choose for the job. 

Radio Ads Cost for radio advertising

Radio ads companies provide everything you need for the process.

Some of the crucial steps in pre-production include:

  1. Script-writing: A radio ads script can make or break your commercial. You should work with highly experienced creative to come up with a killer script that includes an attention-grabbing call-to-action (CTA).
  2. Casting: Your production company will help find the best talent, including scriptwriters and voice over actors. You have to get sounds that stand out to distinguish your radio ad from the rest.
  3. Jingles/sound effects creation: Jingles and other sound effects are critical for the success of your radio ad. The producer will work with you to come up with unique sounds to be used in the radio ad.

3. Production Phase 

This is where everything comes together to make your radio ad. If you work with a radio station team or a radio ads company, the production will happen at their facilities. They have the technical equipment required for the job and the talent to make a perfect commercial. 

Such equipment will include mixing desk/console, soundproof recording booth, digital work station, and recording software. The creative producer oversees the entire process and works with the voice over artist a recording, sound or audio engineer, and the rest of the technical team. 

4. Post-production 

Post-production is a crucial stage in creating radio ads. A radio ads editor usually cuts and trims your ad to ensure it fits the desired playtime. They also remove any pauses, background noises and arrange the sound effects neatly along with the voice over.

Your editor will adjust the level of peaks to make the advert sound natural. They can raise or lower the voice of the announcer depending on the background music. They add fade in and outs, intros and other essential aspects of the ad.

5. Distribution 

Distribution of the radio ad is also a high cost to consider. When working with a radio station for the production, they include the delivery in their package.

For other production houses, the cost of distribution will depend on the radio station you choose. You can also opt to distribute your ad on your website, and other platforms and the prices will vary.

What Determines Radio Ads Cost?

A quick search for radio ads costs gives an average of $200 to $5,000 per week. This depends on your location as the prices will go up for radio spots in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. If you are targeting smaller towns and rural areas, the production costs will go down.

When working with a radio producer, you will get a quote for your radio ad. 

This will cover all costs, including:

  • Advertising strategy development
  • Script-writing 
  • Voice talent performance
  • Production services such as editing, mastering and distribution. 
  • Additions like radio jingles 

Most radio commercial producers require a deposit upfront for their services. 

Still, you can get different quotes for your radio spot based on various factors. Here are some of these things that will determine the cost of your radio ads:

i. Station Demographics 

Radio stations tend to target a wide variety of listeners, making it one of the most significant advantages of using radio ads. You can target a specific segment of the population using this media. Nevertheless, this will also affect your budget. 

Some of the targeted demographics are more popular than others: you will thus pay more to advertise on such stations. For instance, if you wish to target an audience between the ages of 24-54, you will pay more for a radio ad than when targeting people over 60 years. 

The group between 24 and 54 years has a high purchasing power, and hence radio stations charge more to reach them. 

ii. People Likely To Hear Your Radio Ad

Radio stations leverage the latest analytical tools to provide advertisers with analytical data. If you want a radio spot in the morning, for instance, you will get data showing you the number of listeners likely to hear the commercial. 

Radio stations use the following formula to set the price of an ad:

  • Number of radio listeners x Cost of reaching 1,000 listeners (CPM) = cost for Advertising Per Spot

CPM varies from one station to the other, but on average it is $12 – $16 range for listeners between 18 and 49 years. 

For such a spot, you will pay more because of the higher number of listeners. You can get better rates for the same ad during the day. 

iii. Competition For Radio Spots 

Radio stations consider the competition for radio spots among advertisers to price their packages. If you have a radio ad and you want it to play in the morning, radio stations consider the demand for the same spot. The more the request, the higher the rates. 

For holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the demand for radio spots is very high, and hence the advertising costs are astronomical. 

Radio Ads Cost for audio ads

iv. Local Events

If you want to advertise on a local radio station, the cost of your radio ad will change if there’s a local event or significant occurrence. For instance, if there’s a local election, the radio advertising rates will go up. 

v. Frequency Of Your Radio Ads 

One of the most significant advantages of using radio for advertising is the fact that you can have your ads playing over and over again. It is an ideal strategy for boosting brand awareness or launching a new product. However, the frequency of your radio ads will also raise the costs. 

vi. Add-ons 

When working with a radio ad producer or station, you get an opportunity to enrich your radio ads by leveraging the producers’ resources. For instance, you can add radio jingles, live endorsements by popular radio presenters, branding services, digital distribution and other solutions. These will increase the overall cost of your radio ads. 

Getting the Best out Your Radio Ads Cost Package

There are ways to maximize your advertising package. Take a look:

  1. Choose the right radio station: Before producing a radio ad start by identifying your target audience. This will help you choose the right radio station based on demographics such as age, income levels, and gender. 
  2. Select the best time to air your radio ads: Don’t go for the cheapest radio spots because they might not help to reach your target audience. Instead, do your research and find the best times to advertise. Mornings and evenings are popular as most people tune in during the commute. 
  3. Consider the radio ad length: A 60-second commercial is preferable as it allows you to pass across your message without rushing it.
  4. Frequency: A report by the Small Business Administration (SBA) says high frequency for a radio ad over a short period is preferable than using fewer ads over a long period. 
  5. Leverage professional expertise: Use professional radio production to boost the quality of your radio add and increase the ROI. 
  6. Use available resources from a radio station: You can negotiate a cost-effective radio ad package with a radio station including radio jingles, radio host services, and DJ live read services, among others. This makes your radio ad stand out and gives you better value for your money. 
  7. Keep tracking your radio ads: Producing a radio ad shouldn’t be the end of the story. You have to follow the performance of the radio ad using different analytical tools on your website. Create a specific homepage on your website to track how many visitors come from the radio ad. You can also carry out surveys for your customers to find out how many have heard the commercial.

Wrapping Up on Radio Ads Cost

There’s no doubt that radio is a powerful medium for businesses and other advertisers. You can reach a wider targeted audience, and the turnaround for radio ads is quicker than for the other different advertising options. 

Radio ads are more memorable. Their increased frequency helps expose your brand. 

With the breakdown of radio ads cost above, it is now easier to actualize your radio campaign strategy.

Start your own audio ad today with Bunny Studio!