Advantages and Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

Radio has undergone considerable changes in the past nearly twenty five years. It used to be the premier mass medium for audiences and advertisers. Radio can deliver ad messages to a very large number of audiences across the length and breadth of a particular geographic area.

Advantages of Radio Advertising

Radio offers a variety of features to advertisers and many of the medium’s characteristics seem to be important to advertisers. Of all the mass media, radio is believed to be the most personal medium and offers advantages over other media like selectivity, cost efficiency, flexibility and mental imagery.

  1. Selectivity: Radio offers a high degree of selectivity through geographic coverage by a large number of stations and various programme formats. Advertisers can focus their ad messages on specific audiences who speak different languages in different areas, which otherwise may not be accessible by means of other media.
  2. Cost efficiency: Cost advantages are quite significant with radio as an advertising medium. Radio time costs far less than TV and the commercials are quite inexpensive to produce. They require only a script of the commercial to be read by the announcer, or a prerecorded message that the station can broadcast. Advertisers can use different stations to broaden the reach and frequency within a limited media budget.
  3. Flexibility: Among all the media, probably radio is the most flexible as it has a short closing period. Radio commercials can usually be produced in a relatively short time and if required, the ad message can be changed almost just before broadcast time. Same ad message can be adjusted in different languages to suit market conditions.
  4. Mental Imagery: Radio advertising uses sound, and a major advantage of this situation is that it encourages audiences to use their imagination in creating images while processing the ad messages. According to Verne Gay, radio can reinforce images created by television commercial through image transfer. In this technique, the same spoken words or jingles are used in radio commercial as on television. Image transfer means that when consumers hear the same ad message or jingle on radio, they connect it to the TV commercial and visualize images. Thus, radio and TV ads reinforce each other.

Disadvantages of Radio Advertising

Like  any other medium, radio too has certain limitations. These include lack of a visual element, audience fragmentation, limited research data, limited listener attention, and clutter. These are important factors and media planners must consider them because radio is not an ideal medium for every type of advertising objective.

  1. Lack of a Visual Element: The most fundamental problem associated with radio is lack of a visual element. The radio advertiser cannot show or demonstrate the product, or make use of any other visual appeal. As discussed earlier, in creating brand awareness, package identification often is critical for many advertisers considering the increasing number of large retail stores in cities with self-service. In rural markets, where the literacy rates are quite low, package identification plays a major role in brand selection.
  2. Audience Fragmentation: Large number of radio stations create audience fragmentation. The number of audience tuned to any particular station is usually quite small. Advertisers who want to reach broad market areas through radio, with language differences, have to buy time on a number of stations reaching specific geographic areas.
  3. Limited Research Data: The research data on radio is limited compared to other major advertising mediums like television, newspapers, and magazines.
  4. Limited Listener Attention: It is difficult to attract and retain radio listeners attention to commercials. Programme switching is frequent among listeners and they often miss all or some of the commercials. Possibilities of distortion in radio broadcast are high and this irritates the listeners – the result commercials are missed.
  5. Clutter: With the increasing intensity of advertising, clutter has become a problem in advertising media, and radio is no exception. Commercial channels carry many ad messages every hour and it is becoming increasingly difficult for ad messages to attract and retain audiences’ attention. Much depends on the precision of script writing, accompanying sounds and level of distortion.

Credit: Marketing Management-MGU

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