Not long ago we discussed how TV advertising has evolved to remain a powerful media for marketers. Well, Radio Advertising has been doing the same. Just as traditional media like Outdoor and TV have become more digital, so has radio. And with digitalization, there are more varied opportunities for radio to become part of a media plan. The new tactical uses of radio is what we call Radio Reimagined.

As one of the earliest media forms radio was supposed to be replaced by “talking” movies. Then television and of course music television should have eliminated the need for radio. But according to Nielsen radio still reaches 93% of the American population. That includes 93% of the 18+ population . That is tremendous reach for any media and puts it ahead of television and smart phone usage.

Like any media success with radio starts by having a clear objective. Marketers must have a precise measurable goal and an understanding of how to get there. Second, advertisers need a distinct picture of their target audience. Think beyond just age, income and geography. What are your prospects interests, lifestyle habits and behaviors? Be as granular as possible.

Radio Creative

Good creative is imperative for successful radio advertising. Unlike print, where people can cut out an ad, or TV where prospects can instantly search you, radio is ephemeral. It is “theater of the mind”. This is a chance to tell a memorable story. Consistency is key in radio advertising as in other forms of marketing. From the music to the voice-over to the calls-to-action be consistent. Listeners should know who the ad is for by the music and voice-over. Audio branding is essential.

Keep your messaging simple. Each ad should have one focus. Multiple offers in an ad confuse listeners. 70% of all radio ads are heard outside of the home. Users cannot engage with the ads like with digital media. Have a simple clear call-to-action to go with the singular messaging focus.

Traditional Radio

Traditional, terrestrial, old-fashioned or AM/FM, whatever you want to call it, over-the-air radio still reaches more audience than any other form of audio. And it does so across demographics. The age group with the least AM/FM listening, 18-34 year olds, still has 87% of the population tuned in every month. AM/FM does well across all ethnic groups. Radio reaches Black and Hispanic consumers at 93% and 98% respectively. And gender does not affect listening.

When looking for a mass-reach vehicle AM/FM does the job as well as any media out there. Whether you need to reach an entire metro or you have more localized stations terrestrial radio will get your message out quickly and efficiently. And, since production is relatively easy and inexpensive compared to other media, copy can be changed quickly.

Streaming Radio

Streaming is another popular way to listen to radio. Streams can take many forms or platforms. Many of us are familiar with Spotify and Pandora, but there are dozens of other streaming platforms. Most have an ad-supported and subscription model. In many cases, the ad-supported version has more listeners. Consumers still like “free”. Almost every AM/FM station has a free stream of their broadcast.

For businesses, the advantage of streaming is the digital delivery. It allows for more granular targeting. Besides age and gender ads can be delivered by zip code, eliminating geographic waste. Companies who know their audience well and over-lay behavioral or interest parameters, make delivery of ads even more specific. Not surprisingly, streaming is growing every year, especially with younger listeners.

Streaming is a great way to reinforce a message on AM/FM to a specific, valued audience. Because it is so targeted you can speak with your most valued customers more directly. While streaming is a bit more expensive on a cost-per-thousand listeners than AM/FM you can start with smaller ad budgets. For many advertisers streaming is a great way to test radio.


The latest radio advertising media is podcasts. Much like the early days of radio podcasts are long-form entertainment. However, the breadth of subject-matter is almost unlimited. Podcast advertising provides a number of advantages. First, the listener is usually much more engaged. Podcasts are not background entertainment they are foreground engagement. People listen because they have an interest in the subject matter and they like the hosts. It makes for a loyal listener. Second, because there are so many topics discussed on podcasts you can really target based on interest and behaviors. And, since it is a stream like digital radio you have the same targeting capabilities.

Much like traditional radio many podcasts are “sponsorable”, so you can be a part of the program regularly. Podcasting is not difficult to buy as you can find services that will help you target your audience and message.

Much like streaming podcasts allow for a more targeted delivery based on demographics and behaviors. Podcast advertising also provides contextual targeting of the message. A store selling running sneakers can advertise on health and fitness podcasts, making the messaging extremely relevant.

Radio Reimagined

Radio has always been an effective means of communicating a marketing message on a local, regional and national level. That has not changed. What has improved are the different options marketers have to use radio even more strategically and tactically. The ability to reach large numbers of listeners with AM/FM and the laser focus of streaming and podcasting make radio a viable tool for almost any marketer. That is radio reimagined.