How Many Radio Ads are Needed to Achieve Success?


When it comes to running radio ads, how many ads do you actually need? Running too few ads won’t get results, and running too many can be overkill. Missing the mark on the right radio frequency is a source of frustration for both advertisers and marketers. Given that advertising campaign results depend on running the right message on the right station the right number of times…how do you know what the right number of times is?

Frequency: A Moment of Clarification

When you’re talking about the right number of ads to run on a radio station to achieve advertising results, you’re really talking about frequency. Frequency, in radio, is defined as the number of times an average listener will hear your ad over a period of 7 days. The objective is to run the number of ads needed to achieve the correct frequency - i.e. the number of times a listener should hear your ad before taking action. Knowing the right frequency for your business, however, depends on your campaign goals:  awareness? or action?

Goal 1: Do you want to compete in the market? 

For most advertisers, the goal is to make your name known in the market ensuring it is top-of-mind when potential customers are in the decision-making phase of their buyer's journey.  With Awareness Campaigns then, consistency is more important than frequency. Your goal is to maintain a weekly frequency of 3 over an extended period of time to keep your brand top-of-mind for consumers who are constantly moving in and out of the buying funnel.

~ The rule of thumb for Awareness Campaigns is between 25 and 35 ads a week. ~ 

Think of brands like Charmin, McDonald's, and Energizer. By now, people know that Charmin makes great toilet paper, McDonald’s makes magical french fries, and Energizer batteries last a long, long time. Why then do they continue to advertise - to keep their brand in front of consumers with an ongoing average frequency of 3?Refresh marketing strategy Because they know that branding is a long, slow, steady victory. It’s a race meant for the tortoise, not the hare.  

Goal 2: Do you want to drive fast, actionable response in a short period of time? 

Also known as an Action Campaign, this strategy is deployed when your goal is to drive measurable results over a specified period of time. When aiming for actions or definable results, your goal is repetition. For results-driven campaigns, it’s not acceptable to simply be a voice in the mix of other voices competing for listeners' attention…you want to be THE voice. That’s why, with an action campaign, frequency trumps consistency - lots of ads over a shorter time frame. 

~ The rule of thumb for Action Campaigns is between 40 and 50 ads per week. ~

A good example of this is holiday advertising. Think of a car dealer or a department store ad you saw recently. In the weeks leading up to a holiday,  the airwaves are full of campaigns offering tremendous price savings on specific items when listeners “act now!” The success of action campaigns depends on getting the word out as often as possible to as many people as possible. Definitely, the hare sprinting ahead of the tortoise. 

action and awareness campaigns

Interestingly, What’s NOT Important?

Interestingly enough, some factors aren't nearly as important as you might assume. When it comes to how many ads run on a radio station, the following factors are NOT important:

  • The Number of Station Listeners

Many people make the mistake of running too few ads on stations that have the “most” listeners. They chalk up their radio ad success to the station’s ratings, not their ad. That’s a HUGE mistake. Any radio station, no matter its total number of listeners, has the potential of bringing customers to your business, especially the right customers. In fact, it’s much better to reach 5,000 in your target audience than to have your ad heard by 50,000 of the wrong people. 

  • A Huge Advertising Budget

Creating a successful radio ad campaign doesn’t necessarily demand a huge advertising budget. In fact, it's actually best to do what you can afford with frequency and consistency. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will a successful radio campaign. Choose the right station and get your messaging right. Then, if your budget limits you to only running ads on weekends, then OWN the weekends. Buy as many ad spots as you can on every weekend that you can and don’t quit. As your budget grows, you’ll be able to expand to your preferred schedule over time. 

The above information outlines our recommended formulas based on our history of proven results with hundreds of advertisers. At the end of the day...remember, consistency and frequency are what’s most important. Everything else is secondary. 

Interested in learning more tips and tactics to give your radio advertising an edge? BrandsFormation is a morning marketing strategy session with author, agency, and small business marketing expert Chuck Mefford, whose proven BrandsFormation marketing system has been used by hundreds of local businesses, transforming them into household names in their local communities. Attend BrandsFormation and come away with a specific strategy designed to create advertising success for your business. Register by clicking here or on the image below. 


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