Advertisers still ask why radio makes sense in the digital age. There are many reasons. Start with the basics. Every week more Americans tune to AM/FM radio than any other platform. In fact, 93% of Americans 18+ listen to radio. That is more than watch TV, or use a smartphone or computer. Radio is an intimate form of advertising, as many people listen alone in their cars, exercising or commuting to work. Because of this, listeners develop strong relationships with their favorite stations, identifying with the music and bonding with on-air personalities.

Radio is a very flexible advertising medium, with commercials as short as 2 – 3 seconds (adlets) to 60 seconds. Radio is an “everywhere media”. It is in the home, car, even on your phone. Radio offers “recency”, since it is often the last thing heard by a consumer before they enter a store or place of business. At its best, radio is “theater of the mind” creating mental images and beliefs of products and services that move consumers.

As with any advertising radio should start with an objective. Define the goals of the campaign and write your ad copy with those goals in mind. Consider writing commercials of different lengths. Short commercials are cheaper and can help build repetition. Longer commercials convey more information. But, don’t try and fit too much into any one spot as it can confuse or overwhelm the listener.

To get started with radio you need to know your target audience. Where do they live? Are they mostly from a single town? County? Metro? Next, know their age.  And with this particular media, it is ok to have an age range. Common ranges are 25-54, 18-49 etc.  You can define ages more narrowly if you choose. Other criteria to identify — are they male, female or equally split? Ideally, you will be able to say that your target audience is Adults between 25-54 years of age and they live in county(s) “X”.

Now you will need to find the right radio station. Radio stations will be able to provide you with data to help the selection process. Ask to see their coverage map, which shows where their signal is heard. Look for stations whose coverage most closely outlines your business area.

Look at radio station rankings in your demo. How many listeners do they have in each daypart ( Morning Drive, Afternoon Drive etc)?  What dayparts make the most sense for you? If you are buying an adult demo, like Adults 35-64, you don’t want to buy evenings. Most adults are home at that time watching TV or reading.

Get the cost for each daypart and calculate the CPM or cost per thousand listeners. (Calculate CPM by dividing the listeners in the daypart by 1,000. Divide the cost of the ad by that remainder to get your CPM. If your ad generates 10,000 impressions the remainder is 10. If the ad costs $160 divide it by 10 to get your CPM of $16) Use this number to determine which stations are delivering your target listener most cost-efficiently.

If you are not sure about the process of buying radio, consider using an experienced radio buyer at an Advertising Agency. A properly constructed radio buy will cost-effectively reach a large number of your target audience. With a well-written ad you can “move the needle” for your product or service.