Click the index below to browse through a variety of topics covering commonly-asked questions about Radio and its extraordinary ability to build brands and motivate consumers.

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Radio has the ability to reach small business owners and self-employed workers.

  • Every week, Radio reaches 86% of small business owners.1
  • Every week, Radio reaches 85% of adults 18+ who are self-employed.1

Radio drives awareness, relevance, and consideration for B2B advertisers.

  • Based on an analysis of 16 B2B campaigns:
    • Radio increased ad awareness by 128% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2
    • Radio increased brand relevance by 64% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2
    • Radio increased brand consideration by 37% for those exposed to radio ads versus those who were not.2

Radio is a source for education as well as entertainment for Business Service occupations:

  • 47% attribute radio to putting them in a good mood.3
  • 42% stated radio keeps them informed/up to date.3
  • 44% stated radio is pure entertainment.3
  • 32% said radio makes them think.3
  • 33% indicated that radio is a good escape.3
  • 30% said radio is a good source for learning.3
  • 18% identified radio for giving them good ideas.3

Radio is an aid for many business owners:

  • 42% stated that radio keeps them informed and up to date.4
  • 30% attribute radio for learning.4
  • 17% believe radio gives them good ideas.4

Radio drives online activity for B2B and consumer campaigns.

Federal Contractor Builds Awareness with Radio

  • Background:
    • A Federal Government Contractor that provides innovative technology services was experiencing branding and awareness challenges.
  • Goals:
    • Increase awareness of their services, drive contracts, etc.
  • Solution:
    • A multi-platform campaign featuring spots voiced by the company leader that provided personal story-telling and insights on the brand, services and results they provide to their customer base.
  • Results:
    • MM+ people within the target audience were reached.2
    • The Federal Government Contractor saw increases in brand buzz, awareness, etc.
    • The campaign has been renewed for 3 consecutive years. (Read full case study here).

Sources: 1) Scarborough USA+ 2021 Release 1 Total (Jan 2020-May 2021); 2) radioGAUGE from the RAB U.K [strongly agree scores]; 3) 2021 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase; Adults 18+ Business Services; 4) 2021 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase; Adults 18+ who are self-employed in their own business

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An analysis by Media Dynamics Inc., of varied weight level schedules illustrates that the greater the number of stations included within a buy will deliver higher reach and lower frequency when compared to those same weight levels purchased on fewer stations.

The analysis also showed that as weight levels increased, reach levels also increased. The same was also true as additional stations were included within the buy at those same increased weight levels.

It is important to determine the goal of the overall campaign. The goal will determine the structure of the plan. Simply stated: A reach campaign should include numerous stations over an extended period of time. If the goal is to increase frequency, then the converse is true: Reduce the number of stations and weeks and increase the number of spots placed on the stations purchased.

Estimated Reach
By Multiple GRP, Week and Station Levels


3-Station Buy

5-Station Buy

7-Station Buy

10-Station Buy


1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.

1 WK.

4 WK.





























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Radio remains relevant in today's world of time-starved consumers. As the original mobile and social medium, it provides programming content meeting the entertainment needs of people according to their demography, geography, ethnography, etc., via its thousands of commercial radio stations, streams, multicasts and podcasts.

Radio is ubiquitous, reaching consumers on-air, online, on-site and on demand whether they are at home, at work or in their car. It is a passive medium allowing consumers to multi-task and listen while they work or play in today's world.

It is a reach medium, delivering messages 24/7 to consumers personally, one-on-one, in an attentive environment. It provides information as it reaches consumers closest to their time of purchase, as they drive to or from work, or even during a lunch break. When used synergistically with other media, it increases brand awareness, brand recall, and an advertiser's ROI. In various studies, it has also proven to increase website visitation and purchase likelihood.

Radio's core strength continues to be the power of words and sound. With its human voice to convince, it can be used as a branding medium. Advertisers continue to use radio personality endorsements to build trust and drive business, with these same personalities often providing personal experiences with the brand, on-air mentions and authentic chatter within their shows.

Radio is resilient. Its accessibility continues to expand with technology. Innovations in this same technology are both enhancing and expanding radio's ability to provide content to listeners whenever, wherever they want it on-air, online, or on demand. Today's technologies can increase and enhance the consumer's radio experience thru text messaging, mobile applications, visual experiences, time shifted listening via podcasts, and even on smart speaker devices.

There have been studies that prove radio's ability to complement other media and drive brand awareness, as well as increase return-on-ad spend. Additionally, as today's advertisers and agencies begin to focus on attribution, radio can now quantify its impact on campaigns. Various organizations can now pinpoint shifts in behavior with digital technology.

As the top source for music discovery and audio entertainment, radio has a dominant role among listeners of all generations and age groups. Radio and the personalities on those stations are companions, something that keeps the listener company, elevates their mood, informs them and makes them think and laugh.

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Which commercial length is most effective? This is a difficult question to answer, as spot length must be dictated by the goal of the message. Allowing an ad budget to dictate the length of the ad is the most common mistake made by advertisers. Never try to get by with :15s and mentions when :30s or :60s are called for to adequately convey your message. 

If your budget is limited, reduce Reach instead of cutting the length of your ad, or buy a less expensive time of day or advertise on a smaller station. Ad messages must always be exactly as long as they need to be or nothing else will matter. 

Following are some parameters to keep in mind when determining what length spot you need to create. Additionally, keep in mind that for some ad categories, commercial length may be pre-determined based on boilerplate disclaimers required by law. 

:60 Ads

  • For complex messages to avoid leaving doubts and questions
  • To include specific details to help persuade - more believable than generalities
  • For a business category that's new and not easily understood - to create realization of need before selling your solution
  • For highly entertaining ads geared to inspire consumers to "like you better" - effective for generic businesses and commodities

:30 Ads

  • To make an easy-to-understand offer for a product or service that is clearly understood
  • To make a single point in an ad

:15 Ads

  • To convey an incredibly powerful, simple message
  • To reinforce simple name recognition to make customers think of your name when your are the sole advertiser in your business category

Mentions (:10 or less)

  • Use frequently to generate top-of-mind awareness when selling a commodity in a crowded market arena
  • To add additional frequency to a schedule that is delivering barely sufficient frequency of your :60 or :30 message

Source: "Radio Ads: How Long Should They Be?" by Roy Williams, founder and president of The Wizard of Ads

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The commercial length and effectiveness can be impacted by various elements such as the number of brand mentions or ideas within the ad and even by the ad's format. According to Radio Recall Research, LLC, ad formats depicting a "Slice of Life" have the greatest recall across both :60 second and :30 second ads -- 22% and nearly 19%, respectively, Interview/Testimonials ranked second across both lengths. Announcer/Sing & Sell formatted commercials had the lowest recall scores with :60 and :30 second spots -- nearly 16% and 14%, respectively.


Length Announcer/ Sing & Sell Slice of Life Interview/Testimony Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 13.6 18.9 17.3 15.2
Percent of Ads 64 18 18 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 15.7 22.4 20.6 19
Percent of Ads 44 33 23 100

The number of brand mentions contained within the traditional length commercials also has a positive effect on recall. Commercials with less than 3 brand mentions scored the lowest in contrast to those that had 6-10 mentions. Typical spots that contained anywhere from 4-5 mentions delivered 19% for 60-second spots and 17% for 30-second spots.

Brand Mentions

Length Few Typical Many Total
(1-3) (4-5) (6-10)
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 12.4 17.3 15.8 15.5
Percent of Ads 31 52 17 100
(1-4) (5-7) (8-10)
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 17.7 18.6 19.4 18.6
Percent of Ads 24 49 27 100

There is also a direct correlation between the number of ideas contained within a commercial and the recall score. Commercials that limited the ideas to no more than 3-5 delivered the greatest average recall scores of nearly 20% and 17% for :60 and :30 second spots, respectively. Spots that contained 6-10 ideas had the poorest recall.


Length 1 or 2 3 to 5 6 to 10 Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 14.9 16.6 12.6 15.5
Percent of Ads 15 64 21 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 17.6 19.9 16.2 18.6
Percent of Ads 13 61 26 100

60-second spots have a higher recall than 30-second spots; they also normally have more words than 30-second spots. The number of words in a commercial correlates more to recall than the length of the commercial.

If two commercials are exact in length, the commercial with the greater amount of words will have a higher recall.


Length Few Typical Many Total
30 Sec Av. Recall Score 13 14.4 17.5 14.7
Percent of Ads 17 68 15 100
60 Sec Av. Recall Score 16.8 18.4 22.3 19.8
Percent of Ads 9 53 38 100

There are two features that are used often in radio commercials: Humor and music. In Radio Recall Research's analysis of over 2500 different radio commercials, humor and type of music proved inconclusive. Specifically, the use of humor provided little help.
RRR suggests that radio commercials that do contain humor should be pretested on target audiences and determine whether or not the target found the spots funny.
Music appears to have no direct impact on recall. The most prevalent format is the "sing and sell" format that performs like an announcement.
Music should not absorb time that can be used to present the advertiser's message, says RRR. Inclusion of music should be limited to background, jingles which emphasize the brand, or gaining listeners' attention.

Source: Radio Recall Research, LLC.
"Characteristics of Radio Commercials And Their Recall Effectiveness"

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As the audio landscape broadens, connecting with listeners’ ears is more important than ever.  It is important for advertisers and marketers to not only reach listeners but also understand the impact and effectiveness of various ad lengths.

So, is there a difference in effectiveness between a short or long form ad? The answer? It depends.

  • Which length impacts brand, store traffic and online lift?
    • A seasoning brand used both short and long form ads. While both versions showed brand lift increases, the short form was more effective.
    • An online fare and accommodations travel site used three lengths: 10, 15 and 30-seconds. The 15 and 30-second ads were effective at driving online traffic. The 10-second ad was more effective at driving more people to use the site/convert.
  • Do different age groups respond equally to various ad lengths?
    • Ad length effectiveness does not vary by age group. The effectiveness is determined by the brand/campaign.
      • A snack company used both 10 and 30-second ads and each ad delivered a return on ad spend. The 10-second spot drove a higher ROI against 35-49 year olds and it also increased awareness among 18-34 year olds.
  • Are 30-second spots effective?
    • As noted in another FAQ, longer length ads should be used when the product is understood and has a single brief message.
    • An insurance company used both 10 and 30-second ads promoting its services. While the 10-second ad initiated requests for more information, it was the 30-second ad that drove greater customer acquisitions.

Source: Integrating Short-Form Audio Ads Into Your Strategy, Pandora, 2019

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Smart speakers are amplifying the audio experience as more Americans are adding them to their households annually.

  • Smart speaker awareness and ownership
    • 33% of P12+ own a smart speaker in 2021, which has grown significantly from 7% in 2017.1
    • Of those who work from home since the pandemic, 49% of them own smart speakers.1
    • 84% of radio listeners 18+ currently own a smart speaker.4
    • In 2021, 47% of P12+ own one smart speaker, 19% own two smart speakers and 34% own three or more.1
  • Smart speaker ownership by brand
    • By brand
      • Amazon Alexa: 24%1
      • Google Home: 13%1
      • Apple HomePod: 1%1
  • Smart speaker streaming and usage
    • AM/FM is the No. 1 ad-supported platform adults listen to on smart speakers (39%), followed by ad-supported Pandora (22%).3
    • 31% of adults 18+ who frequently use their smart speakers are listening to music from a radio station.5
    • eMarketer predicted in 2020, about 30.7 million Americans would shop on smart speakers.2
    • Smart speaker owners request about 10.8 different types of tasks on their smart speaker in a typical week.6
    • 37% of smart speaker owners have a smart speaker with a screen.6
    • 36% of U.S. adult smart speaker owners said they are using their smart speakers more to listen to music and entertainment more since the pandemic hit.6
  • How consumers discover new skills/actions for their smart speakers
    • Trial and error: 38%6
    • Family/friends recommendations: 35%6
    • E-mails from smart speaker brand: 25%6
    • Searching smart speaker app: 23%6
    • Recommendations from smart speaker: 21%6
    • News/tech sites: 19%6
    • Company advertisements: 11%6
  • Smart speaker placement
    • Most smart speakers (55%) are placed in the living room/family room of households.5
      • Bedroom(s): 48%5
      • Kitchen: 44%5
      • Den/office: 20%5
  • Top five smart speaker requests
    • Play music6
    • Check the time6
    • Receive reminders6
    • Tell a joke or something else funny6
    • Set a timer/alarm6
  • Smart speaker owners who are radio listeners have done the following:
    • 81% Listened to live radio7
    • 71% Obtained sports updates7
    • 70% Purchased/ordered a product or service7
    • 70% Obtained news updates7
    • 70% Played a game.7
    • 69% Made a phone call7
    • 66% Listen to music via a streaming service7
    • 64% have controlled smart home devices7
Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2021, Edison Research and Triton Digital; 2) eMarketer, people 14+, July 2020; 3) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q3 2021; 4) Scarborough USA+ 2021 Release 1 Total (Jan 2020-May 2021); 5) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2021; 6) NPR, Edison Research, The Smart Audio Report, Spring 2020; 7) 2021 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase

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A podcast is a series of on-demand audio files that focus on a certain topic or have an overall theme. They are free to listeners and can be downloaded online, via smartphones, computers, or tablets. Thousands of podcasts are produced weekly, and listeners can subscribe to their favorite podcasts to get notified when a new episode becomes available.

  • 222 million (78%) P12+ are familiar with audio podcasts, while 162 million (57%) have ever listened to a podcast.1
    • 77% of African Americans and 57% of Hispanics 12+ are familiar with podcasts.7
    • 41% of P12+ listened to podcasts in the last month-nearly double from 17% in 2015.1
      • 28% listened in the last week.1
    • 38% of African Americans and 36% of Hispanics listened in the last month.7
      • 26% of African Americans and 25% of Hispanics listened in the last week.7
  • U.S. weekly podcast listeners averaged about 5.1 podcast shows in the last week.1
    • One in four now listen to podcasts weekly, dominated by millennials at 48% and Gen Z at 43%.2
  • In 2021, 57% of P12+ had ever listened to a podcast, increasing from 44% in 2018, 40% in 2017 and 36% in 2016.1
  • Despite the pandemic, podcast advertising increased 42% from April 2020 to September.5
    • In April, the average number of ads per podcast was 2.7 then jumped 22% to 3.3 in September.5
  • According to Podsights Benchmark Report, podcast advertising created an average visitor lift of 80% across 11 industries.10
    • Average lift for purchase events was 121% across these industries.10
    • Average lift for lead events was 144% across these industries.10
  • Podcast listeners listen to multiple podcasts each week - an average of six per week.1
    • Listen to one podcast per week: 11%1
    • Listen to two podcasts weekly: 15%1
    • Listen to three podcasts weekly: 14%1
    • Listen to four-five podcasts weekly: 21%1
    • Listen to six-10 podcasts weekly: 19%1
    • Listen to 11 or more podcasts weekly: 19%1
  • Podcast daily reach among A18-34 is up 43% and is also up 51% among A25-54 in the past two years.1
  • Sources that U.S. Latino monthly listeners use to discover new podcasts:9
    • Social media posts: 67%9
    • Recommendations from friends/family: 63%9
    • Searching the internet: 62%9
    • Advertisements on other audio programs: 38%9
    • Recommendations on AM/FM radio: 36%9
  • 44% of A18+ said the most popular location to listen to a sports-related podcast via AM/FM radio was at home, while 29% said in the car.4
  • Podcast listener demographics A18+6
    • Male: 58%
    • Female: 42%
    • White: 71%
    • Hispanic: 13%
    • Black: 10%
    • Other (Asian, non-Hispanic, etc.): 13%
    • Age
      • 16-24: 21%
      • 25-34: 24%
      • 35-44: 21%
      • 45-54: 14%
      • 55+: 20%
  • 36% of U.S. Latinos have ever listened to a podcast that was mostly English while 24% have ever listened to a podcast that was mostly in Spanish.9
  • Of those adults 18+ who have listened to a podcast in the last 30 days8:
    • 57% are homeowners
    • 58% work full-time jobs
    • 51% are married
    • 43% have received a bachelor’s or graduate degree
    • 41% have a HH size of three-four
    • 30% are a parent with a child living in the HH


Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2021-Edison Research/Triton Digital; 2) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2021; 3) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q3 2021; 4) Statista; Morning Consult, March 2020; 5) Magellan AI, Top 400 podcast database, Q4 2018-Q3 2020; 6) Edison Research, Podcast One, Ad Results Media, Super Listeners 2020; 7) The Infinite Dial 2021-Edison Research/Triton Digital A Look at African Americans & Hispanics; 8) 2021 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase; 9) Edison Research, Latino Podcast Listener Report; 10) Podsights Benchmark Report Q1 2021

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Brands seek celebrity or radio personality endorsers because they are well-known in their communities and listeners feel a certain bond with radio hosts. 
Radio, with its human voice to convince, can be used to persuade and influence listeners.

  • 61% of A18+ listen to AM/FM radio because of the DJs/Hosts/Shows.1
    • 64% female1
    • 58% male1
  • 6 out of 10 (61%) adults say radio personalities are the main reason why they listen.1
  • 1 in 2 radio listeners have a favorite radio personality.2
  • 49% of adults strongly agreed that radio station’s local feel is a primary advantage for AM/FM radio.1

Radio listeners have a strong personal connection with radio station personalities.

  • 87% of radio listeners know any personal detail about their favorite on-air radio personalities/DJs.2
  • 75% of radio listeners know about the marital status of their favorite radio personality.2
  • 68% are knowledgeable about the DJ’s home life.2
  • 53% of listeners know the hobbies & interests of their favorite radio personality.2

Listeners have an emotional connection with on-air personalities.

  • 81% consider DJ’s a friend, family member or an acquaintance.2
  • 59% of listeners follow their favorite radio personality on social media.2
  • 87% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that AM/FM personalities make them laugh.3
  • 64% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that if their personality went to another station, they’d probably follow them. 3
  • 61% of A18+ strongly/somewhat agree that their favorite AM/FM personality makes them think.3

Since listeners feel connected with radio personalities, their statements about brands and product recommendations are assumed to be based on personal preferences.

  • 83% of listeners value and trust their favorite personality’s opinions.2
  • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended on-air.2
  • 78% of listeners talk to their friends about what they hear from their favorite radio personality.2

As the original social media influences, DJ endorsements work well to build trust, drive business and website traffic for advertisers.

  • Bertucci’s restaurant used radio personality live endorsements to kick off a successful campaign with year over year increases in sales and traffic. *

Radio and DJ endorsements are great at reaching a large number of consumers and getting them to your location, and can be customized by brand:

  • Authentic chatter inside their shows
  • Personal experiences conveyed to listeners
  • Via radio personality or specific radio show apps
  • Social media engagement
  • On-air mentions/billboards/promos
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews

*Visit www.rab.com for additional case studies.
Sources: 1) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2021; 2) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019; 3) Vision Critical / MARU Nation Study, November 2017

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The U.S. 12+ population base increased from 308.6 million in 2010 to 332.9 million in 2021 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As of September 2021, one of AM/FM radio’s key factors is its ability to reach 235 million listeners.

With the plethora of new media choices, radio still offers near universal coverage of the broad 12+ demo, underscoring radio’s appeal to listeners young and old.

(Source: Nielsen, RADAR 151, December 2021, Monday-Sunday 24-Hour Weekly Cume Estimate)

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An important element of any campaign is to ensure that it is effective.
Frequency is a key component.

  • Ad exposure within a purchase cycle matters.1
    • 3x is ideal.
      • Three exposures at minimum within a purchase cycle over a 4-8-week period will deliver the greatest effectiveness.
    • There is data that supports that two exposures are sufficient while one exposure may be effective in only the rarest of cases.
    • Three or more exposures will continue to build effectiveness but at a slower pace (and will not diminish impact).
  • 3+ frequency influences online and in-store behavior.2
    • Based upon a Nielsen study, consumers exposed and recalled 3+ radio ads (vs. those who did not recall):
      • 21% increase in store visits
      • 75% increase in website visits
      • 159% increase in click-throughs
      • 41% increase in additional product information
      • 100% increase in product in-store purchase
      • 300% increase in retailer product web purchase
  • How to determine the right frequency level.3
    • Use 2+ frequency:
      • Maintain awareness and attitude for a known campaign with unique and newsworthy messaging.
      • Competitive advertising should be at a minimum.
      • Highly recognized brand with low brand loyalty for competitive products/services.
    • Use 4+ frequency:
      • To create/increase awareness and strengthen current brand/product attitudes.
      • Ideal for a new campaign and/or a simple message.
      • Competitive advertising should be moderate.
    • Use 6+ frequency:
      • To create attitudes and for complex messages used in a competitive market and/or a low interest category/product.

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Calculating Reach vs Frequency
When gearing up for a campaign, it’s essential to be able to communicate to an advertiser how many people will hear their advertisement and how often throughout the radio campaign. Here are the definitions and formulas you need to give provide this information.

  • Average Quarter-Hour Persons (AQH Persons)
    • Average number of people listening to a particular station for at least 5 minutes during a 15-minute period.2
  • Average Quarter-Hour Ratings (AQH Ratings)
    • Average Quarter-Hour Persons estimate expressed as a percentage of the population being measured.2

How to Calculate:

AQH Persons ÷ Population = AQH Rating %2

  • Gross Impressions (GIs)
    • Sum of Average Quarter-Hour Persons audience for all spots in an ad schedule; total number of times a commercial will be heard.1

How to Calculate:

AQH Persons x # of commercials in ad schedule = GIs%1

  • Gross Rating Points (GRPs)
    • Sum of all rating points achieved for a particular spot schedule.1

How to Calculate:

AQH Rating x # of commercials in ad schedule = GRPs1

  • Reach
    • The number of persons reached or exposed to a spot in any given ad schedule.3

How to Calculate:

GRP's (%) ÷ Frequency = Reach (%)3

  • Frequency
    • The average number of times a person or household is exposed to a radio spot.2

How to Calculate:

Gross Impressions ÷ Net Reach = Frequency2

For additional radio terminology, click here
For additional radio formulas, click here

Sources: 1) AAAA, RAB, Universal Spot Radio Buying and Selling Terms; 2) Nielsen Terminology and Definitions for Nielsen Radio Diary Service; 3) Fortune-Media Planning & Placement, Media 101

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  • Streaming
    • An estimated 193MM persons 12+ listened to online audio in the last month.1
      • Offering listeners exclusive audio and video content like in-studio interviews, concerts, on-demand video.
      • Ability to personalize a playlist based on listener's music preference or mood.
  • Mobile Apps
    • Content available across multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and in-dash infotainment systems.
  • Infinite breadth for signals and content through online radio and HD Radio platforms:
    • Specialized niche channels (24-hour weather/traffic/news/stock info, etc.).
    • Seasonal and focused programming (Financial, Holiday, Real Estate, etc.).
  • Expanded commerce opportunities
    • Instantaneous ownership of audio content (music, advertising messages/couponing, news programming, etc.).
  • Listener influenced programming:
    • Break or bust for new artists -- allow listeners the ability to control fame or flame.
    • Citizen journalism.
  • HD Radio
    • Improved audio and expanded content.
    • Interactive/data/visual/time shifting.
    • On-demand features.
    • Real-time traffic on navigation systems.
    • There are about 2,500 HD radio stations broadcasting in the U.S.2
    • As of February 2021, there are more than 2,100 multicast channels broadcasting.2
    • 182 vehicle models offer HD Radio technology as standard.2
      • 51% of all new cars sold in 2020 came with factory installed HD radio receivers.1

    Sources: 1) The Infinite Dial 2021; 2) HD Radio-Xperi for RAB, February 2021

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Since the pandemic hit, the percentage of Americans who have driven/ridden in a car in the last month has decreased from 88% in 2020 to 83% in 2021.1 Despite newer technologies evolving as options for in-car entertainment, on-the-go consumers still prefer radio as their top in-car selection.

According to The Infinite Dial 2021:

  • 75% of A18+ that have driven/ridden in a car past month have ever used AM/FM radio in their primary car.
  • 20% of A18+ have driven/ridden in a car that has in-dash information and entertainment system.
  • In 2020, 10% of A18+ have Apple CarPlay in their vehicles while 8% have Android Auto.
  • 50% of people 12+ listen to online audio in their car streamed through a cell phone.

Radio’s Share of Ear In-Car.2

  • As of Q3 21, AM/FM radio’s in-car share of ad-supported audio is 88%.

Out-of-home listening is mostly in vehicles.

  • Radio is a top choice in the car for music discovery
    • 80% of adults 18+ have driven/ridden in a car in the last month and say it is very important to stay up to date with music.3
      • 90% of these adults are ages 35-54.3
  • According to a Voicebot study, about 21% of adults use in-car voice assistance to start playing a radio station.4

According to Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2021:

  • In-Car listening on a regular radio dominates home station listing during an average weekday.
    • AM/FM radio has a 58% share of in-car media usage - greater than satellite radio at 18%, on an average weekday.
    • 65% of A18+ say their main reason for listening to AM/FM radio in the car is because it is the easiest.
  • Of those buying/leasing a new car in 2021, 74% of them said FM radio and Bluetooth (73%) are the most important features.


Sources: 1) Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2021; 2) Edison Research, Share of Ear Q3 2021; 3) Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2020, New Music Seekers; 4) Voicebot, In-Car Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report, January 2020

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  • Radio has the human voice to convince
    • 81% of consumers agree that a “human voice can establish a connection like nothing else can.”1
    • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended by their favorite radio personality.1
  • Radio builds brands
    • In a radio campaign, two breakfast products grew +7% and +12% in brand awareness.6
      • 13% increase in parent company brand purchases.6
  • Radio creative matters
    • Radio creative is a key component to branding
      • A powerful way to create an emotion is through sonic branding – using sounds to differentiate brands.3
      • Sonic branding is critical to creative and creative is vital to driving sales.3
      • A Nielsen study showed that creative ads drive an almost 50% sales lift.3
    • Brand mentions are important
      • An insurance company mentioned their brand name in the first few seconds of ad; 2x in :15 spots and 3x in :30 spots.3
        • Their branding structure generated +11% likeability, +10% optimism, +7% trustworthiness and +6% purchase intent.3
    • Voices, tone and music influence purchase intent
      • A VERITONIC ad study found that audio logos that mention brand names have a Veritonic Audio Score of 69.4
        • Brands that did not mention their brand name had a 55 Veritonic Audio Score.4
      • Audio logos that had a melody had a 77 Veritonic Audio Score.4
        • Audio logos that did not have a melody included has a 60 Veritonic Audio Score.4
  • Radio delivers a strong return on investment (ROI)
    • Average radio payback per investment is $10:$1.7
      • In a study, a parent brand saw an $11.96 return on ad spend per $1, while their men’s personal care brand saw a $1.23 return on ad spend.5
      • The parent brand gained an 8% increase in sales among households where men were exposed to radio.5
  • It is the originator of experiential marketing
    • Radio station-produced remotes or events allow for sampling opportunities, increasing brand awareness.


Sources: 1) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019; 3) Westwood One, Cumulus Media VERITONIC, Do Disclaimers Ruin Tier Two Auto Ads, May 2018; 4) Westwood One; VERITONIC, Audio Logo Index 2021; 5) Westwood One, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Groundbreaking Research Proves AM/FM Radio Delivers Strong ROI for Personal Care Brand, 2018; 6) Westwood One, Maru/Vision Critical, New Breakfast Brand Successfully Uses AM/FM Radio to Build Awareness and Drive Purchases, 2019; 7) Nielsen Studies 2014-2016

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Definitions as per the American Marketing Association:

  • Continuous Media Pattern:
    A timing pattern used in a media plan whereby the advertising messages are scheduled continuously throughout the time period covered by the media plan.
  • Flighting:
    An advertising continuity or timing pattern in which advertising messages are scheduled to run during intervals of time that are separated by periods in which no advertising messages appear for the advertised item. Any period of time during which the messages are appearing is called a flight.
  • Pulsing:
    An advertising timing or continuity pattern in which there is noted variation of media spending in the media schedule. There is some spending during all periods of the schedule, but there are periods in which the spending is notably heavier than others. This approach stands in contrast to a continuous media pattern in which equal amounts of spending are allocated to all time periods of the schedule.

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This list has been compiled solely to provide sources of monitoring services available for Radio in response to frequent requests for this information and in no way implies RAB endorsement of any specific company.

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  • Sales Seasonality:
    Companies with seasonal products are more likely to choose flight scheduling to concentrate their advertising for the peak sales season. Some foods such as milk and toothpaste lack a seasonal pattern. Everyday products may be best served using the continuity approach. Use monthly sales to identify (brand) seasonal fluctuations, which can serve as a guideline for allocating more money to high-sales months and less to low-sales months.
  • Product Purchase Cycle:
    Fast-moving consumer goods such as bread, soft drinks and toilet paper probably require continuous weekly advertising in a competitive market to constantly reinforce brand awareness and influence frequently-made purchase decisions. Less frequently purchased products such as carpet cleaner or floor polisher may only need advertising a few times a year.

    Family vacations may require early planning so purchase decisions are made in advance. Travel industry advertisers will schedule their ads months before the summer. Destination ads have to be in sync with the decision making timing, versus actual consumption time.

    New product launches normally require initial heavy advertising to create brand awareness and interest. The launch period may last from a few months to a year. Note that personal influence in the form of word-of-mouth or brand visbility in life and media coverage will play a role in accelerating the adoption of a new brand. Personal influence and market force are "unplanned" messages, which may play an important role in new product launches.

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  • Radio drives store traffic
    • Analysis of 1.5M spots across 10 brands showed that radio ads drove a 22% increase in store traffic.2
      • Specifically, radio ads drove a 32% increase among automotive, 32% for beauty retailers, 23% for quick service restaurants and 7% for home improvement.2
  • Radio drives search
    • An analysis of over 162K auto dealer spots showed that radio drove an 9% increase for in-person visits to dealership.3
      • In-person traffic increased by 14% when the radio spots ran.3
    • Across 35.7K auto insurance spots, radio drove a 12% increase in new users online.4
      • There was a 15% increase in web traffic when campaign was on vs. off air.4
    • A study across 8 brands and 2,157 ads revealed that radio drove a 29% increase in Google searches.1
  • Radio improves brand perception
    • Radio drives growth and impact for NFL radio campaign.
      • An NFL streaming subscription radio campaign generated 18% growth in brand recommendation and 26% growth in brand attribution.6
        • 45% said they would probably/definitely subscribe to NFL streaming service in the next 30 days.6
        • 54% said they would probably/definitely subscribe in the next 6 months.6
  • Radio boosts business
    • As COVID-19 hit small businesses hard, Impact Radio Group (IRG) set out to help.
      • Ran a campaign with free high frequency simultaneous media schedules across 7 IRG stations for one week.9
      • Each advertiser experienced a reach of about 140K A18+ with about 400K impressions.9
      • Radio advertisers who continued their campaigns had a 20% conversion rate.9
  • Radio personalities influence behavior
    • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended on-air by their favorite radio personality.8
    • A restaurant incorporated DJ endorsements as part of a campaign, which resulted in increased store traffic as well as increase in sales.7

Sources: 1) Media Monitors, Sequent Partners, In4mation Insights, RAB, Radio Drives Search, 2017; 2) Dial Report & RAB, Radio Drives Store Traffic, 2018; 3) NumericOwl, RAB Radio Drives Auto Search, 2020; 4) NumericOwl, RAB, Radio Drives Auto Insurance Search, 2020; 6) Nielsen Campaign Effect Study - A Leading Video On Demand Streamer/NFL on WestWood One 2020; 7) Norbella for Bertucci’s case study; 8) Katz Media Group, Our Media, 2019; 9) Impact Radio Group, Iliad Media Group, Boost Idaho Business Case Study

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  • Radio increases TV’s reach
    • In a TV-only campaign, 10% of the budget was shifted to radio.1
      • Increased reach by +41%.1
      • Reach increased 57% to 80% with the same budget with the 10% radio allocation.1
    • Nielsen’s analysis of a major wireless company’s campaign showed increased reach, particularly with younger demos.5
      • The TV ads reached about 58% of P18-34. Radio reached an additional 20%, producing an +35 increase in overall audience reach.5
  • Radio reaches light TV viewers
    • Light and non-TV viewers are hard to reach.4
      • 44% of Americans represent only 10% of total TV commercial impressions.4
      • The solution lies in radio, as it reaches 92% of light TV viewers making its addition to TV-only plans effective.4
  • Radio influences behavior and response
    • A study of over 131.9K restaurant radio ads generated a 5% increase among new users online.2
      • The ads delivered an average of 3.9 new online visits per airing.2
    • In an auto study, radio increased brand perception by 70% versus unexposed radio listeners.3
      • 78% said the dealership had a great selection of cars.3
      • 72% said the auto company offers competitive pricing.3
      • 72% said that they have a higher likelihood to recommend the dealership.3
      • 70% said they trust that dealership.3
      • 67% said they offer attractive financing terms.3
      • 47% said that they favor the dealership more.3
  • Radio’s appeal is that it’s local
    • Radio informs listeners on traffic, weather and events.6
    • 87% of listeners agree/strongly agree that radio’s primary advantage is its local feel.6
    • 35% of listeners listen to local radio to be updated on emergencies.6
    • 37% listen to be informed on what’s going on locally.6
    • 39% listen to stay updated on news.6
  • Radio connects emotionally, creating a receptive environment
    • 83% value and trust their favorite radio personality’s opinions.7
    • 81% of listeners consider DJ’s a friend, family member or acquaintance.7
    • 52% of listeners feel a connection with radio.6
    • 46% say the radio keeps them company.6
    • 38% of listeners listen to get in a better mood.6
    • 32% of listeners listen to the radio to escape pressures of everyday life.6

Source: 1) Westwood One, National Nielsen Media Impact August 2019 campaign; 2) NumericOwl, RAB, Restaurants Jan 2020-Dec 2020; 3) Nielsen, SBCA, The Value of SoCal Radio to the Auto Industry, 2019; 4) Westwood One, Nielsen, AM/FM Radio Makes Your TV Better 2018; 5) Nielsen PPM Custom Analysis, July 1-28, 2019 / P6+ unique audience exposed to a major wireless campaign on TV & Radio; 6) Jacobs Media, Tech Survey 2021; 7) Katz Radio Group, Our Media, 2019

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  • The average spot break is 3.5 minutes in length.
  • On average, radio holds more than 93% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks.
    • One-Minute Break - 100%
    • Two-Minute Break - 99%
    • Three-Minute Break - 96%
    • Four Minute Break - 92%
    • Five Minute Break - 87%
    • Six+ Minute Break - 85%
  • Commercial breaks during morning drive deliver an average of 97% of the lead-in audience.
  • Music stations deliver 90% of the lead-in audience among 35 to 64 year olds.
  • Audience levels remain high on spoken word stations and deliver 97% of the lead-in audience among 18 to 34 year olds.
  • Audience levels are high during commercial breaks among Black and Hispanic listeners and on ethnic-targeted music stations.
    • Radio delivers 94% of its lead-in audience among Black listeners 6+.
    • Radio delivers 92% of its lead-in audience among Hispanic listeners 6+.
  • Commercial break audience delivery is consistent throughout the year.
  • Implications for Advertisers:
    • Advertisers should recognize that radio is a commercial-friendly medium.
    • Advertisers should not be overly concerned about their position in radio commercial breaks.
Source: What Happens When the Spots Come On, 2011 Edition - Nielsen Audio, Media Monitors, and Coleman Insights

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  • Radio is an effective medium
    • The top choice for audio and entertainment -- at home, in-car and on the go.
  • Radio’s reach
    • Radio reaches 88% of Americans 18+ on a weekly basis.1
    • Radio continues to have a high reach among traditional media.1
      • 18+: 88%
      • 18-34: 84%
      • 35-49: 89%
      • 50-64: 92%
  • Radio- a trusted ad medium
    • Americans trust traditional media the most
      • 45% of Americans said they somewhat or very much trust advertisements heard on the radio.7
  • Listeners spend time with radio
    • The average listener 18+ spends 11 hours and 59 minutes weekly with radio.1
      • Radio listeners tune in approximately 1 hour and 28 minutes daily.1
    • Teens 12-17 are tuning into radio 7 hours and 8 minutes weekly.1
  • Listeners value radio – for news, entertainment, and companionship
    • 48% of A18+ said radio puts them in a good mood.4
    • 46% of A18+ say that the radio relaxes them.4
    • Radio keeps listeners informed about local news (39%).5
    • 38% state radio improves their mood.5
    • 35% of listeners say that radio keeps them informed of emergencies.5
  • Radio is a part of everyday life
    • 46% of A18+ listen to radio 1 to 5 hours weekly while 33% of radio listeners listen 6+ hours per week3.
  • Radio is available across platforms and devices
    • 193M P12+ have listened to online audio (includes AM/FM streams) in the past month.6
    • Americans 12+ listened to online audio approximately 16 hours and 14 minutes in the last week.6
    • 75% of A18+ that have driven/ridden in a car past month have ever used AM/FM radio.6
    • 65% of radio listeners say that it is easy to listen to while in-car.5
  • Radio builds awareness among heavy radio listeners
    • Adults 18+ who are heavily exposed to radio (180+ mins/day) are 189% more likely to have shopped a jewelry store in the past four weeks compared to those with no radio exposure.8
      • 183% are more likely to have shopped a sporting goods store.8
      • 160% are more likely to have shopped an auto parts store.8
      • 137% are more likely to buy/lease a vehicle.8
  • Radio personalities connect with and influence listeners
    • 1 in 2 listeners have a favorite radio personality whom they have been listening to for an average of 8 years.8
      • Listeners (78%) share what they hear from their favorite personality with their family and friends.9
      • 77% of listeners would try a brand recommended by their favorite radio personality.9
      • 83% of radio listeners value and trust their favorite personalities’ opinions.9
  • Radio drives online search
    • An analysis of 35.7K auto insurance ads exhibited an impact on web traffic.10
      • New user lift grew 12%.10
      • There was an average on 2.2 new website users per airing.10
      • Auto insurance ads influenced visits to local agents with a total of 25,600 in foot traffic throughout campaign.10
      • 59% of new in person visitors were influenced by the radio campaign.10

Sources: 1) The Nielsen Total Audience Report, June 2021; 3) RAB; Statista, Radio Listener Monitor 2020; 4) 2021 MRI-Simmons Spring Doublebase; 5) Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2021; 6) Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2021; 7) YouGov, Global study: Which types of ads do people trust, 2021; 8) The Media Audit 60 Market Aggregate 2020; 9) Katz Radio Group, Our Media, 2019; 10) NumericOwl, RAB Radio Drives Search For Auto Insurance 2020

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  • Optimum Effective Scheduling (OES) is a concept created to reach the majority of a radio station’s listeners 3 or more times by distributing ads evenly throughout a week.
    Message retention and recall begins after three exposures. This is referred to as effective reach. The principle behind OES is concentration and repetition.1 An OES schedule generally consists of 35-60 commercials per week.1

    Three-Step OES Formula:1

      • Calculate turnover ratio for a broad demographic, Mon-Sun 6am-12mid.1
        • Turnover ratio is an index of how long a station’s audience spends with them and is driven by format.1

    How to Calculate:

    Radio Station Cume Audience ÷ Average Quarter-Hour Audience = Turnover Ratio

      • Determine the number of spots per week.

    How to Calculate:

    Turnover Ratio x 3.29 = Spots Per Week

      • Run the spots with even distribution across all days and dayparts, Mon-Sun 6am-12mid.1
    • OES concentration and repetition
      • The key to OES is concentration and a campaign can be concentrated in the number of weeks, days, dayparts and the number of stations.
        • Weeks - If an advertiser only has a budget for a 12-spot week campaign for the month - put this entire budget into one week of a month for a single 48-spot OES week.1
        • Days - concentrate spots in 2 or 3 days. This would be effective for a one-day sale or event.1
        • Dayparts - Concentrate spots into a single daypart. If a business is trying to grow their breakfast traffic, concentrating spots in the morning is important.1
        • Stations - reduce the number of stations being used for the campaign, concentrate spots on one station for the highest return.1

    Source: 1) Radio Advertising’s Missing Ingredient: The Optimum Effective Scheduling System, Steve Marx and Pierre Bouvard

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    To better articulate the number of weekly spots an advertiser should run during their campaign depends on understanding the advertiser’s goals and what is important for them to achieve during their campaign. There are four levels of radio campaign scenarios. Each deliver various results contingent on the campaign goal.

    Very light and light schedules are ideal for maintaining a campaign message with low reach and frequency - general awareness. Medium schedules are ideal for promotional campaigns, seasonal products, or general sales events. A heavy schedule can be used for a major sales event, grand opening, or a product launch where the advertiser wants to reach the most amount of people.

    For each level, the number of weekly ads needed vary, based on Nielsen reach and frequency reports (on a typical radio station in a diary market) include:

    • Very light
      • Reach: 34% of station’s audience
      • Frequency: 1.4 times
      • 12 ads needed
    • Light
      • Reach: 50% of station’s audience
      • Frequency: 2 times
      • 25 ads needed
    • Medium
      • Reach: 66% of station’s audience
      • Frequency: 3 times
      • 49 ads needed
    • Heavy
      • Reach: 78% of station’s audience
      • Frequency: 4.3 times
      • 83 ads needed

    To calculate how many spots advertisers should run on a particular radio station is based on the individual radio station’s turnover rate: Station Cume ÷ Average Quarter-Hour Persons = Station Turnover

    The turnover ratio signifies the number of different people reached by a station weekly.  A higher turnover rate means the audience spends a shorter time listening and a lower turnover rate means the audience spends a longer time listening. It is helpful to understand how many ads or promotional messages are needed to reach a station’s listening audience.

    With the station turnover rate in hand, determine the number of spots an advertiser should run in one week, on that particular station when creating a Monday-Sunday 6AM-12AM schedule.

    • Very light
      • 1/2 of radio station’s turnover rate
    • Light
      • Radio station’s turnover rate
    • Medium
      • Double radio station’s turnover rate
    • Heavy
      • Multiple radio station’s turnover rate by 3.4

    According to Nielsen, the number of weekly spots needed for the four levels on reach vary based on a radio station’s format.



    For additional information or hot to calculate in a PPM market, click here.


    Source: Radio Advertising Bureau, CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One, How Many Ads Should a Radio Station Run to Get Results, 2020

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