The Value of Radio Advertising

While broadcast radio has existed in the UK since 1922, the first radio advertisement in the UK wasn’t until 1973 and welcomed a Lindus advert for Bird’s Eye Fish Fingers as its launch advertising broadcast. Previous to 1973, radio was regulated and ad free but with the advent of commercial radio the opportunities for businesses to reach their customers changed forever. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that as one of the oldest forms of media, radio might be outdated as a means of advertising. Actually the opposite is true, the value of radio advertising has never been as strong.


The mass appeal of radio is beyond any other media format. It’s estimated that up to 93% of UK adults will engage with radio at some point during a week. These figures are unparalleled elsewhere. No other medium can offer the ‘anywhere, anytime, any customer group’ opportunities that radio can and as the world changes as far as how we work, live and interact, this is an invaluable premise.

Referred to as the ‘companion media for the modern working from home demographic’, radio offers company and choice for listeners. Choosing which station to listen to, radio is often on throughout the working day and into the evening in a way that may not have happened in an office environment. Add into that the ‘commuter radio’ demographic, those in the car over school run, work run, morning and evening gym commutes. Before you know it, you have a growing number of engaged listeners.  Reaching remote workers like taxi, delivery, and long distance lorry drivers as well as other shift workers, it’s easy to see why radio reach is so broad.

In addition to the sheer numbers, a key component of radio’s value is the fact that its reach is active. Listeners choose to listen to radio, often while they are engaged in other tasks subconsciously building trust, loyalty and purchase intent. It’s a clever combination of audio and emotion, convenience and immediacy.

Radio also hits harder on reach when you consider just how many ways you can engage with it. From traditional radio to listening through phones, laptops, iPads or TV. Now it’s an option to stream through digital radio, Google HomeHub or Alexa. It’s hard to imagine any media which can be found in quite so many touch points of our lives.

Flexibility and targeting

The real beauty of radio advertising lies in its flexibility and targeting abilities. Initial targeting was limited to basic demographic information: geographic, age and musical choice. But as the world of digital data evolves, the more granular radio targeting gets. From identifying job seekers, to holiday seekers, mindset to motivation, data sets are specific and advertising can look forward to being increasingly effective.

The flexibility of time banks offering advertising at specific times of the days just adds to this. Choosing drive time slots, nighttime slots or anything in between, adverts can be selected to air after news, before traffic or myriad other permutations. And then there’s the option of multiple adverts, with brands cleverly recording several version of their ads to be broadcast to specific demographic groups. The specificity of targeting is truly hard to beat as audiences feel that they are being addressed directly.

Radio provides advertisers with the opportunity to target exactly who they want, at exactly the right times. It makes use of the effective touch points of our day when we’re engaged with other activities and primes each listener for engagement and return.

Budget conscious

Many advertising and marketing decisions come down to budget and radio offers the most economical of all advertising options. Consider the process and cost involved with creating a high standard (TV advert? Eye watering at best. TV of course has its place in the media mix but the same consideration when it comes to radio adverts is incomparable. Advertisers can create numerous creative versions of their ads provided they have good script writing and great sound engineering. Quicker, more cost efficient and more flexible for edit and update allows more clients the opportunity to hear their key messaging on radio

In the UK, it’s widely accepted that the return on investment from radio adverting is £7.70 for every £1 invested. A good ROI even taking into account the overheads involved in advertising design, creation and broadcast. This option for low cost, low risk and high impact advertising is hugely attractive for brands and when combined with the extraordinary targeting capabilities, difficult to look past.

Brand building

No brand can be static and hope to stay afloat so well considered strategies around brand building are key to future proofing any company. Radio advertising is recognised as offering huge benefits in this regard. Accepted as an emotional form of digital, radio pulls on two specific heart streams to really engage with its listeners.

Firstly, loyalty to local radio in certain areas of the country is incredibly high. Listeners choose what they listen to and they are often staunch in their support of the station. This loyalty offers advertisers a most fertile consumer group to speak to.

Secondly, radio often music and the integration of well known music before, after and as part of any advertising has been shown to have a far more positive outcome than print or digital advertising. Music can act as an emotional trigger and lives on in the neural pathways of consumers long after they listen to an advert. Interestingly stats show that the use of slower paced songs has been attributed to improve memory so advertising looking to choose music to run alongside their broadcast might bear that in mind.

Position for the future

Radio advertising is here and here to stay. It’s not lessening in importance with time, quite the contrary. As targeting capabilities improve the impact and value of radio can only grow. Whether listening in the car or working from home, whether a music or talk radio fan, whatever the nature of your radio participation, advertisers can look forward to a limitless and primed audience for years to come.


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