A quick look around YouTube shows us compilations of powerful radio ads we can learn from. We will look at some of these ‘radio ads youtube’ and try to absorb the basics of radio ad creation.

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Radio Ads vs. Audio Ads: Which is Which?

Audio ads are essentially audio commercials which appear on a vast amount of online platforms. Radio ads, on the other hand, basically appear on radio.

The usefulness of radio advertising is up for debate. Some point out that audio platforms are superseding radio, making it unwise to advertise traditionally. Others stress that although these new platforms are certainly the future, radio will always have its place.

Advantages of Audio Ads

  • Audio ads are great for mobile use. Radio ads will be able to reap the benefits of mobility as radio stations stream online, but currently audio ads take the cake.
  • Audio ads have a particular advantage in that they can be pinpointed to very specific demographics. New technologies and algorithmic approaches allow for very specific locating of audiences.
  • Audio ads (and their results) can be measured with great amount of detail. This allows for a finessing of the advertising strategy.

Advantages of Radio Ads

  • Radio ads still reach certain demographics very efficiently. There are some people who do not quite listen to audio ads, like the elderly. An advertiser tailoring commercials for such a target group should probably use radio ads.
  • Certain local and regional radio outlets still have a steady, loyal following in their particular area. Sometimes radio ads in such stations may prove specific enough and thus highly successful for advertisers.
  • Although radio is traditionally distributed, there are possibilities to stream radio online as well. Many radio stations have a robust online presence as well as a traditional presence. Internet radio in particular is a rising trend.

Bottom Line: Radio is Still Useful

Radio is still a potent medium, with listeners who can be a prospective audience for any advertiser. Radio ads are –still– an important form of advertising. Although it is true that audio ads in online platforms are growing exponentially, radio still reaches a great number of people.

audio ads youtube

Similarities and Differences – Radio Ads vs. Audio Ads


  • They both serve to advertise products and services.
  • They may be constructed similarly. These are the basic building blocks:
      • Establish empathy with the listener. Listen to this Lipton Tea ad which does this quite well and creatively.
      • Set up or explain a problem that needs solving. Listen to this classic radio ad about New York City. It sets up the problem quite well (‘Where to vacation?’). It is noteworthy to point out that this jingle was created by the reputed jingle writer Steve Karmen.
      • Show ways (mostly one in particular) in which the problem may be solved.
      • State a call to action, prompting the listener to a particular action.
  • Length is also a similarity: both radio ads and audio ads are pithy and very much to the point. Most of them fall in somewhere between 30 seconds and 60 seconds.


  • Audio ads appear primarily online. Radio ads appear on traditional radio (except of course in the case of radio stations which stream online).
  • Audio ads tend to be more conversational. They are usually geared towards someone who may be wearing headphones and thus they do not have to compete for the attention of the listener. Radio ads, on the other hand, need to compete for the attention of a listener and thus tend to be more strident and urgent. Check this radio ad by Pizza Hut. It is loud and urgent, something which is very typical of radio ads.

Which Should You Choose?

If the product being advertised is of a general nature, radio ads are a good choice. Consider, for example, a commercial for a large chain of supermarkets. Radio will be a natural choice for such an advertisement.

If there is, however, a need for a very specific demographic, audio ads will probably be better. Imagine an ad for a music album by a young musician, aimed at a Gen Z demographic.

Radio Ads Youtube: A Closer Look

Radio Ad Styles

There are several types of radio ads, including:

  • Live Reads: This style of radio ad is when commercial copy is read, live, by a radio announcer. Listen to the beginning of this podcast by comedian Marc Maron. The first minutes are basically live reads of the sponsors of the show.
  • Sponsorships: These are similar to live-reads though they are a bit more pointed. They basically sponsor a specific section of the show and are usually read immediately before this part.
  • Produced Spots: These are radio ads which are more produced. They are perhaps what first comes to mind when thinking about radio ads. They may include jingles.

What to Include in a Radio Ad

There are several things which should be included in a radio ad. This is apparent when we listen to radio ads on YouTube. There are several steps to creating a radio commercial, such as the following:


First of all, who is the radio ad for? This part is crucial. As was pointed out earlier, audio ads have this specificity down very well. This does not mean, however, that radio ads cannot be targeted correctly.

Moreover, knowing the audience will dictate the content and the general feel of the radio ad as well. The more we know about the potential listeners of our radio, the more specific our copy can be.


At this stage the question is quite simple. What will the radio ad try to do? What is the effect that it intends to have on the listener?

It is essential that the creator of the radio ad understands the specific reaction desired: increasing sales, boosting the awareness of the particular brand, putting a product out there in the market etc.

There are two essential items to be aware of. First, is the benefit. What is the benefit for the listener? It is important that this benefit be transmitted, and made explicit, so as to truly motivate a listener to take action.

There is also the issue of the reaction that is expected. Once the call to action of the ad is made, what exactly do we want the listeners to do?


It is important to remember that a radio ad is short. Most of them clock in at around 30 seconds. The average rate of speech hovers at around 150 words per minute. This means that a 30-second radio ad will have around 75 words at a normal conversational rate of speech.

Naturally, radio ads can vary. Some of them will feature a ‘hard sell’. These are ads which have a sense of urgency and thus have a higher rate of speech. They may very well put in around 90 words in those same 30 seconds. This is very usual on the radio, where ads have to compete for the attention of a listener, as we explained earlier.


The basic structure of a radio ad, can go something like this:

  • Hook: This is the start of the radio ad. It must grab the attention of a listener and not let go throughout the ad. This is very important when trying to capture the attention of a listener on radio.
  • Meat and Bones: Keep it pithy and simple. Time is limited to create an impression, so it is better to concentrate on the kernel of the message fast.
  • Call to Action: A radio ad must have a strong ending. The call to action is basically what we want the listener to do specifically.

Sometimes call to actions will be quite explicit. Listen to this Ford commercial for a very explicit call to action.

Sometimes, however, (and this sometimes happens with bigger brands), the call to action is softer and entails a mere positioning of the brand. Check out this Coca-Cola ad, for example.

video ads on youtube

Things to Avoid in our Radio Ads

There are things to avoid in our radio ads. Some of these include:

  • Avoid Clichés: Writing original copy will evidently craft powerful radio ads. Boiling down the information we want the listeners to understand is a good idea. Wordiness may work against us when trying to put out our message in a limited time.

  This KFC ad is a good example of avoiding clichés and also of making use of particular tropes and themes for added effect.

  • Avoid Weasel Words: Weasel words are words/phrases that are too often used in advertising. Think of things like: “quality” “service” “top dollar” “great deal”. Finding synonyms is a good idea to create copy that is really memorable. Check out the copy in this IKEA ad, for an interesting take on originality.

The Gist of It

Both audio ads and radio ads are constructed similarly. A key difference is that audio ads seldom have to strive for the attention of a listener. They are hence more conversational in tone. Radio ads, on the other hand, usually sound more energetic and urgent. They are both quite pithy.

Audio ads can be pinpointed and tracked very specifically. Radio ads still reach some groups (like the elderly) particularly well. Some radio stations are highly influential locally and regionally.

Radio ads are still very useful when reaching particular demographics or staging a local/regional presence for a product. General products benefit from radio (ie: a supermarket chain). More specific products can do well with audio ads (ie: a music album for young people).

When creating radio ads, it is best to try to be original and to avoid clichés. This novelty, however, must be built on a structure which is quite traditional and sturdy.

Try to look up radio ads on YouTube as much as possible. These compilations will teach the basics of radio commercials.

Good luck with your radio ads!