With all the advertising mediums available, it is important for a business to be visible in as many formats as feasible. One of the most important places to advertise these days is audio ads. With many types of commercials on this platform, there is a commercial type and a place for every brand. With a little fine-tuning and hitting the right audience, your commercial may just be what it takes to steer more customers and more business your way.

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This post was updated in June 2021

The Role of Audio Commercials

Audio commercials have been one of the most popular and effective forms of advertising for almost 100 years. Because of the large scope that these types of commercials can reach, it is an effective, affordable means of advertising.

As RadioAdvertisingFacts explains, radio and audio is everywhere. Because of its portability, listeners can listen anywhere and anytime. When people are driving, working, exercising, playing, they can listen to the radio. In addition to this, the format of audio advertising is appealing in and of itself. When consumers are hearing the ad, they can visualize the speaker. There is a certain intimacy and connection with audio that you can’t find in other advertising venues. This is a valuable asset to audio advertising.

All types of commercials are always on the virtual front page. As long as the listener is tuning in, your ad is accessible. No worries about it being buried in the back of a magazine or right next to a competitor’s ad in a newspaper.

Leighton Broadcasting shares that radio remains one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising. It is also a great way for small businesses to reach their target audience without spending a hefty chunk of their budget. This article explains even more of the trends of audio advertising, including return on investment and how to get started.

These types of commercials are versatile and can fit any size business at any size budget. Whether your company is large and far-reaching, or just getting started and small, audio advertising can be a successful piece of your marketing endeavors. Wherever your audience is, you can reach them through radio. And more and more audio listeners are actually paying attention to the commercials, unlike other forms of media. This in part has to do with the format and the connection listeners form with their hosts.

The role of radio in advertising is an important one. Other forms of media advertising are becoming more expensive even though fewer people are connecting with ads in print or on TV. Radio is a cost-effective, far-reaching, effective mode of advertising and one you and your business, no matter how big or how small, should be involved in.


Types of Commercials

In audio, there are a few different types of commercials. The type you choose is important because each conveys a bit of a different vibe. So which commercial you choose often will depend on your advertising goal.

Three of the main types of commercials played on audio are:

  • Live read – A live read is just what it sounds like. The host of the show will deliver a commercial in real-time. It can either be in his or her own words from his own experience or from a fact sheet provided by the business.
  • Sponsorship – This type of advertising is where a business will pay for a segment, contest, or piece of an audio show. In return, they receive a mention and/or a call to action for their business. Perhaps the host will say, “Morning traffic sponsored by House Painting XYZ. Give them a call at 123-456-7890 the next time you need your house painted.”
  • Produced spot – This type of commercial is usually with a voice-over and is pre-produced. The same commercial is played multiple times rather than airing live. This is probably the most common type of commercial and can include characters and jingles.

Live Read Types of Commercials, Examples, and Advantages

Live reads were some of the first types of commercials; popular products were toothpaste and cigarettes. The hosts back then would talk about the product, the same as they do today. AdAge, however, talks about some of the changes that have occurred over the years and how live reads take place today.

Some of the big names known for doing live reads now are Ryan Seacrest and Steve Harvey. You may see celebrity Steve Harvey talking about Publisher’s Clearing House and hear the famous Ryan Seacrest talking about his favorite things on his radio show. Because of their popularity, they have a lot of credibility when they speak for a product.

Local audio personalities do these as well. One of the keys these days is that the speaker believes in the product. That is important to the success of these ads. The genuine tone and the relationship the speaker has with the audience has a big influence. The host and listeners have developed a relationship, and the audience trusts the speaker. When the speaker promotes your product, it’s like a good friend recommending it. Often they tell a story with it, making it even more tangible.

For example, you may hear your local DJ talking about a nearby mattress business, sharing how he sleeps much better on his new mattress after his bouts with insomnia. When listeners hear a real story, they are more apt to look into purchasing the product.

The big advantage here is the connection. Trust comes into play and with a reliable host sharing an experience in his or her own words, the commercial becomes a conversation between friends rather than a paid advertisement.

Sponsorship Types of Commercials, Examples, and Advantages

Sponsors are also going to provide that personal touch to an advertising spot. Many times, sponsors are local businesses who feel a connection with the type of audio show they want to advertise on. As RadioGuestList reminds us, sponsors are only interested in being associated with programming that reflects positively on their brand.

Things like political affiliation or demographics can come into play during sponsorship. Of course, any advertisers must match up to listeners, but this may be even more apparent in sponsored commercials. The advantage is that the listeners will be strongly connected already.

Some popular spots to sponsor are segments like weather, traffic, or sports. The advertiser itself can be of any type of business; it does not have to relate to the segment. A sponsored type of commercial usually is a long-term agreement and the hosts will mention the sponsors over a period of maybe three months. According to RadioWorks, on-air sponsorships generate brand awareness through frequent name check mentions, along with a brief positioning statement. 

The big advantage is the familiarity and recognizability developed over time to loyal listeners. Your brand will be a constant to the listener. And remember, the listener is your target customer base.


Produced Spot Types of Commercials, Examples, and Advantages

Produced spot commercials are those that we hear over and over. Often they are national brands, but they can be local as well. Unlike sponsored bits or live read types of commercials, produced posts are produced off air, so they can be played over and over.

Some well-known produced commercials are Geico, QT, and national television shows. These all have a wide appeal and can reach a huge number of listeners.

One advantage of this type of commercial is that once it is made, it can be played unlimited times. It has longevity. Also, there is often a jingle or saying involved. This becomes recognizable, which is another advantage.

Another unique feature of these types of commercials is that listeners will hear them on more than one platform or station. This adds to their recognizability which goes a long way in making them stick and bring business in. These are the most common types of commercials in audio.

Choosing Between Types of Commercials

Marketing Week says 2019 has been called the year of audio and states that this almost century-old form of advertising is gaining a new lease of life. So it makes sense to advertise on audio platforms, you just have to decide between the different types of commercials. Some things to consider when you are deciding are:

  • How much control do you want over your ad?
  • How much of your budget do you want to spend?
  • Do you want a long term commitment with the show?
  • How involved do you want the program host to be?
  • Do you want an ad you can play for unlimited times?
  • Are you willing to share your product for free?

Considering these things is just as important as considering your target audience. For instance, if you don’t trust or like the program hosts and you give them free rein to talk about your product, it may not go well. On the other hand, if you love their personalities, their vibe, and trust their input,  a live read may be perfect.

If you don’t like to give out your product, you may be against a live read because often the product is one of the forms of payment. After all, the host must have used the product to have the experience to talk about it.

Sponsorship can help you feel as if you are giving back to your community and you get some advertising in the meantime. A lot of businesses like this aspect of a sponsorship.

If production is in your blood, you may embrace this type of commercial. You can create a strong script, have talented voice actors convey your message, and have it ready for different platforms. It can be played over and over, and you created it. There are definitely advantages here as it’s probably the most common type of audio commercial.

The Takeaway

Audio is a good place for advertisers. If you have a business, you should consider advertising on the radio no matter what type of commercial you choose. The nice thing is that you have some options. Some factors to influence your decision may be your style, your brand, your budget, and your audience. You can mix and match types of commercials or stick with one if it suits you best. The flexibility is there to meet any needs. But don’t miss out on a great opportunity with audio advertising. It’s here to stay.

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