Commercial Radio and the local advertiser

Radio is a fantastic medium for local advertisers as it allows them to reach out to the local community in a highly targeted and cost effective way. However these aren’t the only reasons why they should be using radio. If you’re trying to understand how radio can help grow your brand or you work for a radio station and are in conversations with a local advertiser, the material contained in this section should help explain just how effective radio advertising can be.

1 Why Use Radio?

This section provides strategic arguments for why radio might be relevant for local advertisers – from the latest audience data and stats to reaching people at relevant times.

Getting heard - Presentation

Big picture view on radio’s significant scale and influence and why local advertisers should be taking advantage of the opportunities available on radio.

Snapshots - Behavioural Planning Tool

Research demonstrates that reaching people at relevant times can help enhance cut through and effectiveness of a campaign. From the school run to working/studying through to childcare, Snapshots provides you with IPA TouchPoints data, case studies and audio to help demonstrate why radio is relevant for local advertisers.

2Proof of Effectiveness

The Radiocentre have conducted a wide range of research studies over the years. Whilst these findings have often been based on national advertisers a lot of them remain relevant for local advertisers

ROI Multiplier

The Radiocentre’s latest piece of research demonstrates how radio can unlock substantial amounts of untapped revenue for local advertisers. Results have revealed that brands using radio get their money back nearly eight times over on average and in many sectors (including Retail, Automotive, Leisure & Entertainment, Finance and Travel) radio offers the best ROI of any media.

Online Multiplier

In a world where virtually every local business has a website, how do you ensure customers are specifically seeking out your brand online? The ‘Online Multiplier’ research can help you understand how radio can drive online brand browsing by over 50%.

radioGAUGE Predict

radioGAUGE Predict can help you understand what radio can deliver for your local marketing campaign using aggregated effectiveness data from hundreds of radio campaigns. radioGAUGE Predict enables you to look at radio’s impact across different sectors, audiences, media mixes (including Radio alongside press) and objectives.

3 Case Studies

Selected case studies focusing on how advertisers have utilised local radio


By tapping into the unique character of a community and utilising radio’s ability to engage and mobilise an audience H&M successfully drove awareness and footfall to support a new local store opening.


Effective use of almost solus radio advertising to build business and change the way people feel about a local restaurant on an emotional level.


Utilising radio’s strength of presenter endorsement to encourage individuals, businesses, schools and organisations to take part in a unique regional radio experiment designed to reduce energy usage.


Using the power of local radio to create an engaging campaign that led to nearly a thousand schools singing up to a new initiative.


Radio enabled P&O to generate a response from specific audiences within key regions and helped bring their brand and core messages to life.


This campaign highlights the ability of radio to connect with local audiences. Radio gave Mitsubishi comprehensive and efficient coverage across their UK dealerships and delivered high levels of cost-effective response.

4 radioGAUGE Insights

radioGAUGE Regional enabled us to measure hundreds of regional campaigns and as a result we have topline results from some key local sectors. These findings will help you understand how radio can increase awareness, relevance and consideration when utilised as part of the local marketing plan.

Colleges & Universities

OOH Entertainment

Car Dealerships

Personal Injury Lawyers/Solicitors

Reaching young people

Click the download button to access slides (PowerPoint .pptx) for relevant sectors


Getting your radio creativity right can really elevate the results that you see local radio providing as part of a campaign

Turning Art into Science

Based on insight from radioGAUGE-measured campaigns and neuroscience, Turning Art Into Science reveals the most effective creative features of radio advertising – and how creating consistency in your advertising can really help grow your brand.

Best Practice Creativity

A specially curated selection of inspiring creative from local businesses or organisations.

6 Useful Tools

A selection of tools available on the Radiocentre website that will enable you to enhance the effectiveness of your local radio campaign


The Radiocentre Mapping tool enables you to create maps of the coverage areas for UK commercial radio stations. Searching by region/place will highlight which national and local commercial radio stations are available in your area.

Ads Database

Use our Radio Ads Database to access an extensive library of radio ads from across the last ten years. Search for ads by brand and script name, sector, agency, date and use filters to discover ads with specific messaging, sonic branding or award winners.

7Guide for Local Sales

How local advertisers can get the most out of radio

Beginners’ guides to local business sectors and how radio can help them get the most out of their marketing investment


Car Dealerships

Local Authorities/Public Sector


8Using Radio Alongside Other Media

There are a number of media options open to the local advertiser. How does radio compare and what does it add to these media?

Using radio alongside LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

Local newspapers have been around for a long time and they are often seen as a “banker medium” by local businesses, despite the fact that their effectiveness may be debateable.

Local newspapers have some important strengths. They have the authority of print (that’s why people talk about information being “there in black & white”) and they are also ideal for providing detail (prices, location, products, etc). Full-page ads in local press can also say a lot about the stature of a business, although this is a very expensive option.

But there are two major disadvantages with local newspapers. The first is clutter: not only do people skip over the ads in the paper, but there often seem to be more ads than editorial on the page.

The second problem is age profile: most local newspapers are read mainly by older people (50+) and this means they are far from cost-effective for advertisers wanting to reach younger audiences.

They also tend to focus – unlike radio - on bad news, and this depressing tone can create a difficult environment for advertisers who are trying to excite or stimulate their customers.


Authority: “it’s in black & white”

Full page ads can demonstrate stature

Room for detailed information

Can be in relevant sections

Demonstrates localness

Newsiness, “what’s on” factor


Some titles are very low quality

Diminishing returns on costly full-page ads

Ageing readership for most titles

Ads are avoided

Cluttered environment

Tend to focus on bad news

What will radio add?

Radio can cut through to create awareness and stand-out

Radio can create excitement and then add “see local press for details”

Radio is much more cost-effective for reaching the under-50s in most areas

Using radio alongside DIRECT MAILSHOTS

One of the great strengths of direct mail is its ability to target specific groups of people – either by locality (e.g. within walking distance of a restaurant) or by business relationship (e.g. lapsed customers). Direct mail also offers great measuRadiocentreility in terms of direct response – it’s possible to calculate exactly how many responses were elicited, and their value to the business.

Mailshots can also include extensive product information and even product samples, although these can become very expensive productions.

But mailshots tend to suffer from two crucial weaknesses. The first is list quality: unless you have compiled the list yourself, it is extremely difficult to establish the quality of a mailing list (we all know what it’s like to receive a mailing which makes a wrong assumption about us).

But the biggest problem is avoidance. People call it “junk mail” because that’s how they feel about it: they are brutal about disposing of it, sometimes not even opening the envelope.


Highly targeted (e.g. lapsed customers only)

Personal, named communication

On paper, tangibility of print

Can use attractive graphics

Can use samples

Opportunity for detailed information

Can measure direct response


Highly avoided

Recipients have low expectations (“junk mail”)

Quality of mailing lists is highly variable

Clutter/competition on the doormat

Can become expensive productions

Long deadlines

Questionable long-term effect on the business

What will radio add?

Radio can cut through to create awareness and stand-out

Radio can create excitement before a potentially valuable mailshot arrives

Using radio alongside INTERNET ADVERTISING

The internet is definitely the fastest growing advertising medium of recent times, and it is a valuable tool for most businesses because the internet is where people increasingly interact with the brand.

It has a special appeal for business-minded advertisers too – they can literally count the number of clicks that a campaign generates for them (this is why internet campaigns are sold on a PPC – pay-per-click – basis).

However, internet advertising also has limitations. The biggest limitation is that people avoid it! The Radiocentre 2005 Ad Avoidance Study showed that people avoid banners and pop-ups even more than they avoid junk mail. This resistance is made worse by the fact that people don’t like clicking on unfamiliar links.

So radio is ideally placed to play a complementary role to internet advertising. One of radio’s greatest strengths is that people don’t avoid the advertising – they zone in and out of the commercials depending whether they find them interesting or relevant.


Connects people to the company

Internet is funky, sexy, modern

Can be placed in very relevant pages

Reaches a wider audience

Trackability – click-throughs can be counted

Information can be constantly updated


People are wary of clicking on unproven links

Easy for ads to get lost there, clutter

Ads get ignored (highest avoidance)

Wastage – e.g. surfers from abroad

Hard to assess value of a mere click

Not everyone uses the internet

What will radio add?

Radio can reach out to consumers, especially those who think they are not interested or who are not yet in the market

Radio can build up name awareness in advance

Using radio alongside DIRECTORY LISTINGS

In the old days, directories meant Yellow Pages – there were no rivals, and almost every local business was listed there. These days there are not only other directories distributed but various online directories have become hugely popular.

But, online or offline, all these directory-based media work in the same way: people turn to them in their time of need (either urgent need like plumbers or for more pleasant things like wedding hire).

This is simultaneously the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of directories as a promotional medium for business. Everyone turns to them in their hour of need – and completely ignores them the rest of the time.

This is where radio can help. Radio builds up awareness and understanding about a company BEFORE the consumer turns to the directory – this allows the company to stand out from all its rivals (which are of course all listed in the same section of the directory).

Advance brand awareness is invaluable to a business which uses directories – just look at the example of Dyno-Rod who dominate the blocked drains market.


Reaches customers at their time of need...

The most relevant environment

Many have long-established credibility

Directories in almost every household

Tend to feature local businesses


...ignored for the rest of the time

It’s where all your rivals are

Difficult/expensive to stand out

Difficult to make a distinctive offer

Anyone can advertise there (inc cowboys)

What will radio add?

Radio can build up name awareness in advance of the time of need

Radio can also add a friendly personality to a company’s image