Radio Media Buying to Reach Your Target Customer

Whether it was your favorite local station on your commute or online radio, there’s a good statistical chance you listened to the radio at some point this week.  Reaching nearly 90% of listeners weekly, radio media buying provides a good investment for marketers because of the large audience it reaches for such low CPMs. In fact, a 2014 Nielsen study found that radio had offered marketers the best ROI for the money.  So certainly there is a potential for large reach with radio advertising, but what is the most effective way to use it to reach your ideal target customer?

As media buyers one of our jobs is to turn reach into conversions for our clients. The best way to do this is to make buys that will most likely to reach the customer most likely to use your product or service.  This is called audience targeting.

Most media formats whether it is digital or traditional offer some kind of audience targeting. Editorially, it allows the media publishers to create content that is relevant to the people consuming it. Similarly for advertisers it allows marketers to allocate their spend to reach people who are most interested in what they are offering.

Radio Advertising for Targeted Reach

Mass media options offer a large and diverse reach. On the surface reaching many different types of people sounds ideal, but strategically a radio or any media budget for that matter can be more effective when it is only being delivered to a targeted customer.

For example, a political ad for liberal voters could likely reach a lot of viewers with an ad during a popular radio program like the conservative talk radio program “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” Limbaugh’s show reaches more than 13 million listeners per week, but if only 10% of those listeners lean left in their political views it offers very little value to the advertiser. This particular advertiser is better off advertising on a show that perhaps get a smaller audience but one whose interests are more in line with their candidate.

Building Personas for Radio Media Buying

The first thing a marketer must do to ensure they are getting a good target is to get a good grasp on who their ideal client is. We recommend developing personas that tightly define the people you  are trying to reach. If you are an established company, utilize data from your current clients to develop your target audience persona.  If you are a newer company, utilize research from competitors in your space. Ask yourselves these questions:

  • Where have we been most successful at acquiring clients?
  • Who are our best clients? (i.e. Which ones spend the most money? Which ones buy from on us a recurring basis? Which industries/regions/demographics have we found the most success)
  • What else do we know about their media habits, interests, and lifestyle?

Once you are able to answer these questions, craft several mock customers based on this information.  Once you’ve developed your personas it’s time to start targeting your radio buys.

Targeting Your Radio Media Buying

Now that we know who we’d like to reach in our advertising we must decide where to focus our advertising to reach them. In radio there are three basic ways to slice and dice your audience segments, they are:

  • Format/Genre: What type of music do they listen to? Music preferences often vary by demographic factors like age, race, and income. Country music, for example, is the top music format by number of stations (or reach), but it is less popular in urban and more ethnically diverse markets.
  • Talk or Music: Does your audience listen to talk radio? If so, is it primarily news, politics, or sports? In some demographics, this radio format is more popular than stations where music only is played. Talk is demographically diverse racially, but attracts mostly men 45+ and older.
  • Geography: Regions are another demographic factor that has a large impact on the listening audience. Above we referenced the popularity of country music stations but until recently two of the largest radio markets, New York and San Francisco, didn’t have country music stations due to the lack of popularity in the genre.
  • Satellite, Digital or Terrestrial: With the entrance and popularity of mobile and satellite radio, the field for radio marketing has expanded. All can be targeted by location, fortunately Terrestrial stations allow marketers to focus on a local geographic area. Satellite and digital offer the same geo-locational targeting, but both get more robust by targeting audience by artist and station preference. Subscription digital services like Spotify require address and demographic data as part of the sign-up process which offers even more info for marketers.

For more specific demographic information for your targeting contact the radio stations directly. They can provide you with data on their listeners. It is usually included on their website or as part of their sales materials

Radio media buying offers a variety of effective targeting options for marketers looking to directly reach their ideal customers.  Stay tuned in to what your target audience wants. Consistently research and stay informed about radio buying options are out there. Combining persona data from your audience with informed research of the radio station choices gives you a good starting place for creating and effective radio media buying strategy.


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