Making an impact with your radio commercials

Radio Commercial

Photo by Jane Carmona on Unsplash.

Turn the crank on the phonograph because the resurgence of radio—and radio commercials—is real. Companies like Spotify, Acast, and Global are cashing in on the internet-based rebirth of this classic medium. Advertisers are wising up, too, realizing how creating radio commercials can help them reach their audience on a much more impactful level than other traditional advertising methods. Last year, for example, Nielsen Catalina Solutions performed a study that concluded that Spotify ads are 25% more effective than the average advertisement.

There’s something about radio that is much more personal to consumers than other sources of information and entertainment. Perhaps it’s the fact that radio, more than any other entertainment source, is often experienced alone. Hi ho, Silver! Families don’t sit in a circle and listen to the radio together anymore? People listen to the radio when they commute to work, when they go for a run, and when they are getting work done; all activities that are frequently done alone.

Radio, You’re My Only Friend

Because listeners are often alone when they tune in, they form a much closer bond with what they are listening to. Whether consumers are listening to a podcast, a streaming music station, a traditional radio station, or any of an array of available content, they want to relate to what they’re listening to. Experiencing content alone makes the content feel more personal and helps listeners form a stronger connection with the subject matter, the personalities, or the music they’re listening to. As a result, a radio commercial targeted at the right audience is going to generate a much larger response than any other form of advertising.

You know all of this already, though. Suggesting that radio commercials can have a great impact on your audience is not exactly a groundbreaking idea. What you need to know is how you can make sure your commercials have the greatest impact possible. How do you make sure that your commercial isn’t just something else the consumer wishes they could skip?

A Boring Ad is a Boring Ad Regardless of the Length

As Dan O’Day wrote in a 2010 blog, “You don’t maintain their interest solely by being ‘entertaining.’ You maintain their interest by being relevant to their lives.” Making your commercial entertaining is just a small piece of the puzzle.  Creating radio commercials that are relevant to the consumer’s life is the key to really making an impact.

More than anything, that requires self-awareness. What are you trying to sell your consumer on? How much information do you need to convey? Who is your target audience? These should all be factors that affect your commercial content and purchasing.

Let’s start by breaking down your potential commercials by their length in both words and seconds:

  • 60 seconds: 150 words.
  • 30 seconds: 75 words.
  • 15 seconds: 38 words.
  • 10 seconds: 28 words.

Based on these approximations, you need to decide how complicated your content needs to be. In other words, how many words does it take you to explain why your product or service is worth? In general, less is more, but you also want to make sure you’re not short-changing your audience. Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll know the ideal length for your radio commercial.

When to Write a 30-Second Commercial

  1. Short and sweet: If you have a simple message to get across, consumers will appreciate if you don’t spend 60 seconds beating them over the head with it.
  2. End on a high note: Shorter ads can sometimes have more impact because there’s less time for consumers to decide they aren’t interested in what you’re selling. Come in strong and leave ‘em wanting more.
  3. Get familiar: If the audience is already familiar with you or what you’re selling, taking a lot of time to explain it to them can come off condescending. Use the audience’s recognition to your advantage and cut out anything that’s unnecessary.
  4. Pay by length: When you pay for the length of the radio commercial, keeping it to 30 seconds can save you some money.

When to Write a 60-Second Commercial

  1. Informing the consumer: If your product is new or foreign to the consumer, the extra time will give you the chance to explain it to the consumer. Your radio commercial will only increase revenue if consumers understand what you’re selling. If you’re introducing a proprietary product or service, you may need to take the time to help the audience understand what exactly it is you want them to buy into.
  2. High concept: If your creative marketing idea requires more time to be effective, it’s worth your effort to make a longer commercial.
  3. Slow down: People aren’t surprised that radio commercials are trying to sell them but sounding overly “salesy” can still be off-putting. A longer runtime can give your voice actors time to slow down speak more conversationally.
  4. Pay by unit: If you are paying for the unit (which means you pay for a spot that you can fill with a 30- or 60-second commercial), it’s cost-effective to get more airtime for your money as long as you’re not sacrificing the effectiveness of your ad.

As O’Day mentions in the blog linked above, people tend to assume that radio commercials need to be a certain length or people will refuse to sit through them. That’s not necessarily true. People may not want to sit through a longer version of something that doesn’t interest them, but that’s exactly the point: If a radio commercial is engaging, then its length (to a point) won’t matter to the consumer. Make sure to engage your audience by:

  • Keeping it simple. Creating radio commercials isn’t about giving the audience high-concept content to dissect. Get your point across and do it in an entertaining way.
  • Being clear. For your audience to be engaged, they need to know what you’re talking about.
  • Being engaging, but not annoying. Funny commercials tend to get the most recognition, but keep in mind that humor has a time and place. Don’t sacrifice the integrity of your radio commercial for the sake of a joke.
  • Knowing your audience. It won’t matter how appealing your radio commercial is if it’s not appealing the people you need buying your product or service.
  • Getting professional help. Don’t be afraid to come up with the concept on your own, but let professionals handle the technical side.
  • Writing with purpose. Keep a careful eye on how many concepts you’re trying to introduce in your commercial. Too many different ideas can muddle your message and render your efforts ineffective.

Do it Like the Pros

Finding the ideal length for your radio commercial is important, but the true key to engaging consumers is putting together a timely and professional recording, something that VoiceBunny knows a lot about. Creating a radio commercial that will engage and persuade your audience doesn’t have to be complicated, and if you need some help, let us know!

Author: Laura Varon

Content creator, marketer, translator. I studied advertising because I wanted to know a little about everything and I am a translator because I want to know a lot about a lot. I co-write with WritingBunny.