The Future of Radio Advertising

Radio Ink recently released the findings of a phone survey of 1,004 U.S. adults.  Among the findings the survey showed that 53 percent of listeners said they stick with a station through commercial breaks, 35 percent change the station, and 8 percent turn off the radio. And those who change the station tend to do it quickly: Seventy-seven percent of those who tune away do it within 30 seconds after commercials begin.  I‘ve seen other surveys where the numbers for losing listeners during commercial breaks are even higher. 

Personally, I will punch out of a station that is playing a really bad spot, especially if the ad is poorly voiced by the owner of the company (hello Tom Shane?).  I’ll also find another station if an advertisement is loud and annoying or if there are more than three or four 60 second spots back to back.  Production and content of the commercial really does matter.

When I was in radio we had a full time production person and that’s all they did.  Not many of those anymore with budget cuts and staff members wearing multiple hats and spreading themselves thin.

In thinking about the future, how much longer can the current advertising spot system last?  Is there a better way to set up advertising and partnerships to better utilize time, money, positioning and ratings?  Especially with the current battle that has emerged with other entertainment options (some of them commerical free).

The only time I find myself sticking around is if the spot is delivered with personality by the DJ or talk show host.  If it is done live with improvisation, all the better.  Give me authenticity and creativeness.  If a host can pull that off, it is not only entertaining, but the represented company is better served.  However, this can backfire when the host is delivering too many live spots and they suddenly become recorded “live” reads.  Which leads us back to annoying.

An even better scenario for advertisers is the shorter and focused spots that are live or that “sponsor” an entire half hour or other segment of time.  You know the type….”This half hour brought to you by insert company here…..”

Am I the only one that thinks something different should emerge in the way ads are produced, presented and scheduled?  Maybe an entirely new and innovative type of advertising revenue stream will emerge through podcasting, texting, or social networking?  There has to be a better way.

It will take a bold radio company to step out and set a new course.


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2 Responses to The Future of Radio Advertising

  1. The mistake you’re making is that a “really bad spot” to you is a “good” ad to someone else. It’s subjective. That’s why the ONLY acceptable determinant of “good” or “bad” is the numbers — what is the cost per lead the ad generates? The rest is just blabble.


  2. Mike says:

    If a bad spot (subjectively of course) leads to more revenue, that’s great for the client. However, how much potential business is the client losing by cutting ads that annoy listeners or make them turn the station?

    Personally I can think of many businesses I would never set foot in because their ads annoy me so much. I end up not respecting what they do because of how they come across on the air. Same goes for television spots. Call it first impressions.

    I guess I’m just not their target.


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