Guide to advertising on the TV and Radio


Radio and television are still extremely popular, with over 92 percent of Americans over 12 years old listening to radio at least once per week. Radio and TV can be useful for reaching in a very short period of time a large relevant audience.

We will discuss here how to advertise on the TV and radio. When you plan to advertise using more traditional means, like radio and television, you need to first figure out what is most effective. There are some tools to track directly the effectiveness of offline advertising such as calls into a specific phone number or redemption of coupons. You can also evaluate the effectiveness of your offline advertising from sales and foot traffic.

In order to avoid wasteful advertising you have to advertise only where your target audience is located. The types of people who are your potential customers will have common interests and traits, similar with your existing customers. So you need to find out what your existing customers are watching and listening in order to avoid waste. For this purpose you can survey your customers. Try to get feedback from at least 15 different customers. Ask them questions about which stations are they listening to the radio, what particular programs and times of the day. Also ask them about the local TV channels and shows they watch.

After surveying your customers you will have a set of data to analyze and understand what is representative for your typical customer. Identify trends in the answers that your customers gave for radio and television preferences and find a particular station or channel that multiple clients listened or watched. Unless your survey indicates a very strong preference for a particular local TV channel, it is recommended that you start advertising with radio because this can be simpler and less expensive than television.

Radio provides more executions and coverage, cost-effective frequency distribution, and reaches people at more relevant times. Radio has low ad avoidance and it can add a more friendly and personal connection than distant and public nature of TV. Statistics show that radio is four times more cost-effective than television at generating brand awareness.

However, it is also possible to get your cable system provider or local broadcaster to create TV commercials for you at minimal or no cost. When you buy advertising from a local broadcaster, if you agree to run TV commercials for three to six months, they will often do it for free. The only catch to having a broadcaster create a low cost or free commercial for you is that can only run it on their cable network or TV station.

In matters of advertising on television it is also important to know that in most areas cable television only reaches about a third of all homes, which means that your potential audience is much smaller than via broadcast television. It is true that the cost per commercial spot will be much cheaper when buying via your local cable provider, however if you take into consideration the cost for reaching a viewer this is in general much higher. Another problem with cable advertising is that cable stations generally focus on selling “rotator” spots, which means you will not know when and where your TV ad will be on air.

On the other side, broadcast TV stations tend to focus on selling commercials at specific times and on specific shows. We recommend you to buy local broadcast television commercials. You’ll be able to negotiate TV commercial rates but take care to not negotiate your sports too hard or they might not air. The cost of broadcast TV commercials depends on various factors, including:

  • The demographics of the show
  • How many people watch the show
  • Seasonal factors
  • Your advertising commitment to the station
  • The demand from other advertisers

You also need to be aware of the fact that TV and radio advertising regulation differs according to the industry sector involved. For instance, tobacco advertising is prohibited on all kinds of radio and TV services. Commercials broadcasted on radio and TV with the portrayal of nudity, sex/sexuality, violence, language, and health and safety are strictly regulated and required to respect certain rules. The same goes with advertising to children, and alcohol advertising.

Armed with both sound and vision, advertising on television has the advantage that it allows product demonstration. This can be particularly important for brands whose competitive difference is defined by what they do differently or for innovative new products. Television advertising can be the most compelling and influential form of commercial communication. Television is available to advertisers on both a regional and national basis. With its unrivalled story telling attributes and unmatched reach, television has much to offer.

If your advertising budget allows it, combining radio with television can be a very efficient strategy.

Radio is most often combined with TV, of all mainstream media. This offers a powerful media combination, because the two media share many common strengths:

  • both are consumed on a daily basis for several hours
  • they are both real-time media that are very effective at reaching out to new customers
  • both allow advertisers to decide when to expose consumers to their advertising message

The differences between the two media can be exploited in order to build synergies and create a highly powerful multiplier effect. Complementary features that exist between radio and TV media create a synergy effect. Creative synergy has a great impact in optimizing the effect of combined radio and television campaigns. While television can play a valuable role in demonstrating new products and driving awareness, radio is effective at consolidating the contact with your target audience through reiteration in relevant places, at relevant times. The effect of using the two media in combination is an ability to effectively reach out to new customers, greater brand ubiquity, and the possibility to address consumers in different modes. All these advantages have the effect of enhancing brand recall and relevance.

For the highest impact of your combined advertising campaign on radio and TV it is best to fully integrate your advertising campaigns across radio, television and digital assets. The power of an integrated approach comes from leveraging television, radio, social media, and web in order to deliver unmatched impact on your target audience.