Radio Advertising. Why radio commercials are more effective than advertisers think

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2013
21 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1 Introduction

2 History of radio advertising

3 The usage of radio
3.1 How radio is used by people
3.2 How radio is used by advertisers

4 Radio commercials
4.1 Advantages of radio advertising
4.2 Hints for a good radio commercial

5 The effect of radio advertising
5.1 Implicit data progressing
5.2 Radio Mono-Campaigns
5.3 Radio-TV-Campaigns
5.4 Three Media-Campaigns

6 Summary and Conclusion

7 Bibliography

1 Introduction

Since people started to invent and sell products to others, advertising became more and more important as the diversity of products and brands grew. Advertisers use many different ways to convince their target audience to buy the product e.g. the wide variety of media such as TV, radio, Print or Internet.

The first media used for advertising as we know it today were printed media such as bills, newspapers and magazines. As those media only attracted the eye of people, everybody was thrilled by the possibility the new invention radio offered: Advertisers were able to reach their target audience through their ears. Today radio doesn’t seem to be that startling anymore compared to inventions like TV or Internet. They both combine seeing and hearing and the Internet also allows users to become active themselves. Due to the widespread meaning that advertising is more effective reaching the eye of clients than only their ear, radio is used the least as an advertising medium. The opportunities radio offers, because it’s only made for the ear aren’t seen by advertisers and companies and over the years radio became the “Stiefkind der Werbung” (Goldhammer, 1998, p. 17).

The little usage of radio as an advertising media is not adequate compared to the position it has for people, because in Germany is a nearly full supply of radios and most of the households even own more than one radio. Because of that drawback the present essay focuses on the question why radio should be used more as an advertising media by pointing out the advantages it offers to advertisers, whereupon some pros only can be given by radio and not by any other media.

For some background information the essay gives a short summary of the history of radio advertising (chapter 2) beginning in the United States of America in 1906 until the situation in Germany in 1995. Chapter 3 makes the difference between the usage of radio by publics and by advertisers clear. Explaining the results of the Media-Analysis 2012 radio II the actual usage of radio in Germany is demonstrated in 3.1, while 3.2 names some general problems the radio has relating to its capability as an advertising media. After that analysis chapter 4.1 describes some more advantages radio offers as an advertising medium besides the results of the Media-Analysis. On the basis of all those chapters some hints for a good commercial are given in chapter 4.2: On the one hand for commercials in general, but on the other hand especially for radio commercials. Of course there’s no universally valid rule how to make a good commercial but there are some points advertisers should consider. Chapter 5 is about the effect radio commercials have on listeners. At first it’s explained how radio commercials are processed by the human brain, while chapter 5.2 to 5.4 interpret a research for the company DasÖrtliche to explain how radio Mono-Campaigns, strategies with a mixture between radio and TV, and campaigns with three different media work. At last the important facts for the central question why radio should be used more as an advertising media are summarized in chapter 6 and a conclusion is given.

2 History of radio advertising

At Christmas in 1906, the first short radio show ever was published for the sailors working at the New York Harbor. Only three years later the potential of the mass medium radio for advertising was discovered: In California the first radio station completely financed by advertising was founded. But it took some more time to establish advertising as a common instrument to finance radio broadcasting. In the early 1920s stations started to campaign for themselves and their shows to attract people. Very soon other companies realized the capability of radio advertising and had their own ads in and between the shows. The normally used types were sponsorings, patronages, testimonials and sponsor identifications. In the middle of the twenties most of the radio stations sold part of their airtime to companies, but to prevent annoying the listener they held it down to a minimum. At that time there were 732 different stations in the U.S. though not enough channels. The programs were overlapping and as a result of that 150 smaller radio stations were abolished by the “Federal Radio Act” in 1927 (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 30-33). The still existing stations were all financed by advertising and the airtime used for that grew very fast including all the problems, including lies that were spread through it. Because of that, in 1930 the U.S. government enacted a law to forbid false pretenses. The economy in the United States wasn’t good during that time, radio stations gained more and more money by selling their airtimes to companies. To compare: In 1930 it had been 30.5 Million Dollars and in 1935 already 112.6 Million Dollars. This means nearly 4 times more profit in only five years (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 41/42).

During the 1940s the so-called commercials were invented: In contrary to the mentioned advertising types commercials aren’t part of shows. They’re produced in a studio and independent from the rest of the show.

When TV started to be found in nearly every household in the 1950s, radio lost its position as the most popular medium and companies became less interested in campaigning through the radio. The solution was to change the program itself: Instead of trying to reach as many different listeners as possible, stations started to focus on special and smaller groups. Therefore it became easier for companies to reach exactly the audience the product is made for and radio as an advertising medium became strong again. Basically this is how radio advertising still works in the U.S. today, because from that time on there were only very few changes (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 42/43).

All in all there weren’t many rules about radio advertising in the United States compared to Germany: In Germany radio broadcasting was launched in 1923 and state-controlled from the beginning. In October 1923 the first radio advertising was radiated at the beginning of a show: „Hören Sie ein Eröffnungskonzert, ein Cellosolo mit Klavierbegleitung ‚Andantino‘ von Kreisler, gespielt von Herrn Kapellmeister Otto Urack und Fritz Goldschmidt. …Zur Begleitung wird ein Steinway-Flügel benutzt“ (Goldhammer, 1998, p. 35). But Hans Bredow, who was in charge of radio advertising, forbade the naming of brands at the same day. Because of that, the radio had to be financed by taxes, so everyone who had a radio at home paid for it frequently.

Two years later , in 1925, advertising started to be allowed slowly again but only for 15 minutes per day. Only a small part of the costs for a show could be financed by those incomes. In addition to the temporal limit there were also laws regulating the advertised products. For example, it was forbidden to advertise using a religious or political motivation and companies weren’t allowed to campaign for alcohol or places of public entertainment. Although there were so many laws about advertising, many people were still strictly against using radio as an advertising medium and as a result of the influence Hans Bredow still had it was completely abolished again in 1930. Especially the beginning of the Hitler period changed the use of the radio completely: The Nazis tried to influence the listeners by using radio as a propaganda tool (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 37-40).

After that setback caused by politics, the confederates reintroduced radio in 1946. The model for the new system in West Germany was the British radio. The nation was still afraid of the power radio had during the Nazi-period and didn’t want any advertising published. So at first the producers had to finance their shows by taxes again, but in February 1948 radio advertising came up slowly. They didn’t campaign for products but for jobs because there was a huge need for workers in different fields. Starting with that, radio became so popular that in 1950 six different broadcasting corporations founded the ARD. Four years later this association organized the whole selling of airtime for advertising in West Germany. While West Germany progressed quickly, radio in East Germany was state-controlled again since 1952 and only used for propaganda. In the 60s the invention of the TV competed with the radio. Even though there was no economic danger, because TV was financed by taxes, the producers of radio shows tried to improve their contents. They wanted to stay interesting for their listeners and tried to become companions through the day, because this was something TV couldn’t offer. When more and more people had their own cars in the 1970s radio started to be used as an information medium for drivers. Only because of that the fourth radio channel was founded, the so-called “Autofahrerwelle” (Goldhammer, 1998, p. 47), that should be used for music and special services. The new channel was accepted very quickly and the numbers of listeners increased, but nevertheless the use of advertising in radio stayed little. During the 80s it became more and more expensive to produce radio shows and radio was used a little more to advertise but still not as much as it could have been. Many companies avoided radio because you could only reach the costumers ears and not their eyes like the TV or a magazine could (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 44-49). The Fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany boosted the advertising market. The radio broadcasting system as it had been in West Germany was brought to East Germany, too, and companies were very interested in the possibilities those changes offered. Everybody wanted to benefit from the new customers in East Germany and spread their brands as fast as possible. But after a short boom the regression came again and radio wasn’t used that much again (cf. Goldhammer, 1998, p. 50).

In 1995 Wild (p. 258) writes: "Der Hörfunk wird in den Mediaplänen als nationales Werbemedium nur selten und nur mit geringen Etats berücksichtigt. Als nationales Basismedium setzen die Werbungtreibenden den Hörfunk so gut wie nie ein.“ This quote is still valid nowadays as chapter 3b will explain in more detail.

3 The usage of radio

3.1 How radio is used by people

In general there are only very little differences in the usage of radio during the last years, but it’s still growing slowly: The day range of radio for people older than 10 years in 2012 is 77.8 percent while in 2011 it was 77.0 percent. Also the time spent listening to radio rose one minute (2011: 186 Minutes; 2012: 187 Minutes). Only the Digital Natives – means the 10 to 19-years-old – use radio less than last year. The rate sank from 68.8 percent day range to 66.7 percent as well as the time spent listening sank from 130 Minutes to 127 Minutes. This shows, that radio becomes more important as soon as people start working, going to university or being trained, because the day range of the 20 to 29-years-old rose from 69.5 percent to 71.3 percent with 242 Minutes spent listening every day (2011: 240 Minutes). Comparing radio with other Media, it’s the third most used medium. Number one is the Computer with 246 Minutes of dwell time and number two TV (231 Minutes). But comparing the day range radio is number two with 77.8 percent, right after TV (82.1 percent). The most used medium, the Computer, only has a day range of 41.2 percent.

The reason why radio can reach so many people is its wide range of possibilities to listen to. Especially smartphones and other new technologies play an important role for the use of radio. But in spite of all the possibilities technology gives, radio is still used a little more at home than outside: In general 56 percent of the usage is at home. Radio use is also dependent on the daily routine. As a result of that, people over 50 years, retired persons and not working persons use radio mainly in the house, while younger and working people use it mainly outside the house. But even though it seems like there is a link between working and listening to the radio, there’s no essential difference in the usage from Monday to Friday and Saturday or Sunday (cf. Image 1).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Image 1 Gattringer & Klinger, 2012, p. 416

A reason for that could be that listening to the radio is mostly combined with other activities. On the one hand with working, but on the other hand also with domestic work, personal hygiene or eating. About half of the German population listens about half an hour to radio while having their meals. Especially driving the car remains one of the most important activities: The day range in the car is 40.1 percentage with 31 Minutes spent listening to radio per day.

All in all every person turns on radio 2.2 times every day on average. Interestingly, 61.1 percent of the listeners listen to a single radio station, while only 26 percent use two different stations and only 12.8 percent listen to three or more – so radio listeners seem to be very loyal to their favorite channel (cf. Gattringer & Klinger, 2012, p. 410-422).


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Radio Advertising. Why radio commercials are more effective than advertisers think
University of Tubingen
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ISBN (eBook)
radio, advertising
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Caroline Harsch (Author), 2013, Radio Advertising. Why radio commercials are more effective than advertisers think, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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