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Spot Advertising

Spot advertising is the most commonly used form of paid-for-advertising on Commercial Radio. Spot airtime can be bought across different day parts and days of the week depending on the objectives of your campaign.

J-ET is Commercial Radio’s ground breaking electronic trading system which enables advertisers and agencies to plan and buy spot campaigns electronically as well as track actual delivery and the majority of major media planning and buying agencies now subscribe to J-ET.


Key points to consider when planning a radio campaign:


Who do I want to talk to and where?

Commercial Radio comprises over 300 stations, each covering specific geographical areas and with attracting specific listener profiles. RAJAR is the radio industry’s audience measurement system and agency media planning systems use RAJAR data to help identify the most efficient schedules by target audience and by region.

Are there specific times when I should be speaking to my consumer?

Research demonstrates that when people are involved in a related activity or in a relevant mindset, recall of advertising increases. So don’t just think in terms of numbers (“when are most of my target audience going to be listening?”), but also in terms of modes and mindsets (“are there key times when the consumer is more likely to notice my ads?”). The optimum schedule should take both of these into account.

Planning systems can help identify the most relevant dayparts in terms of numbers. Also IPA Touchpoints data can help identify when people are involved in related activity and which media they are most likely to be consuming.

What length should each spot be?

Whilst the most common spot lengths are 30 and 40 seconds, spots can in effect be any time length up to 60 seconds or even longer (see Newslink Recall study for more information). The longer the time length, the more expensive the spot airtime will costs. Ultimately this boils down to the creative i.e. how long does the ad need to be to get the message across and make as big an impact as possible. It can be helpful to include a recommended time length in a creative brief, if only to help manage budgets from both a media and budget perspective, but it’s worth being open to deviating from this (within reason) for the right creative idea.

How long does my radio campaign need to be?

The standard campaign length for most individual campaigns is four weeks. However again this will depend on objectives. Is this about maintaining a constant level of awareness for an existing brand or underpinning a long-term TV campaign? In which case consider running over as long a period of time as budget will allow or consider a burst campaign. Or is it about achieving maximum awareness as quickly as possible for a new brand launch or tactical offer? Bear in mind it takes time for a new campaign to build on air so we would always recommend a minimum of four or five weeks to get a campaign fully established.

What weight of frequency should I go for?

We get asked a lot about what is the optimum frequency for a radio campaign and there is no real scientific answer as so much depends on campaign objectives. However, as a very rough guideline, the standard frequency which the majority of planning agencies will work to is 4 OTH. This allows for the fact that a lighter radio listener will potentially hear the ad a couple of times in a week whilst a heavy radio listener is likely to hear the same ad 6 or 7 times. Creative also plays an important part in this – some ads needs to be heard a couple of times for the message and brand to really register. Others build quickly but can wear out sooner whilst some ads can be heard time and time again without any risk of wear out.

How important is weekly coverage when planning my campaign?

As part of the Radio: The ROI Multiplier research we were able to investigate the impact of coverage and frequency on sales allowing to agencies providing us with J-ET data in addition to econometric analysis.

The results were conclusive, if somewhat unexpected: in radio advertising, the impact of increased coverage on sales is stronger than that of frequency.

In the sample, the mean average weekly coverage was 16%, with a maximum of 40%. When this data was modelled against sales uplifts from radio, the results demonstrate significantly improved returns at the higher coverage levels and support optimising weekly coverage to at least 40%.

Additional resources

To explore how advertisers have used spot advertising to great success on radio please visit our case study library

To understand how radio advertising can make your campaigns more effective please visit our radioGAUGE Predict tool

If you’d like to hear examples of how advertisers have utilised radio spot advertising please visit our radio ads database

To find out more about pricing and booking a radio airtime campaign please contact the individual station sales teams

june, 2017

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