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Newspaper Advertising vs. Radio Advertising – And the Winner is....

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 10:33 AM |


In any economy, especially one that continues to limp along, advertisers are looking for solid results in exchange for their ad spend. Many local business owners have recognized that digital media isn’t necessarily the holy grail of advertising, and that tried-and-true marketing channels such as radio and print are still very viable and effective at getting their message in front of an audience.

But, between newspaper and radio, which channel offers the most advantages? We’re glad you asked.

Radio Advertising

When meeting with a salesperson for your local radio station you will no doubt find their pitch to be creative and enthusiastic. They may even play a spec ad on tape and show you graphs of listener demographics and maps that show how far their signal reaches. It is all very convincing and will most likely raise your expectations enough to hand over your allotted budget.

But let’s look a little closer at the limitations of radio advertising.

What is the actual market share offered?

If you sit in your car and tune in all the FM and AM stations in your local area, you will find that, even in small markets, there will be 20 or more radio stations with a listening audience. This means the market share is split up into small numbers for market penetration even for the biggest radio station. There may be 50,000 households in your market, but the station you are working with may only reach 1,000 of them.

Radio-NewspaperWhy is the radio on?

Why do people listen to the radio? They either listen to be entertained or simply to have background noise while driving or doing household chores. For those who listen to be entertained, advertising is considered an interruption. For those who have the radio on simply for background noise, the advertisement goes completely unnoticed.

Satellite radio has taken off in the last five years because people are willing to pay extra to avoid the dreaded commercials. Many new cars, in fact, have satellite radio built right in.

The radio industry itself recognizes listeners don’t want to have their music interrupted by advertising, which is why many stations promote themselves as the station that “plays more music, less commercials.”

More competition drives up ad prices

The peak time for radio listening is obviously during the morning and evening commute. So, though there may be 24 hours in a day, there are really only about four to six hours where your ads might possibly be heard. Consider the fact there may be 20 – 30 local businesses all vying for the same airtime and you quickly realize why radio advertising can be so expensive.

Who makes up your audience?

Radio stations often throw numbers around and claim 75% of households are listening during the day, but who is making up this listening audience? Are you sure it’s the demographic you’re trying to reach? Many stations’ core audience is made up of 13 – 21 year olds – are these the customers you’re trying to sell to?

How much lasting power do radio ads have?A radio ad plays for 30 seconds and then it is gone

A radio ad plays for 30 seconds and then it is gone, never to be thought of again. And forget including a phone number or email address in the ad; unless you expect your audience to pull over on the side of the road and jot down your contact information, chances are they’ll never remember (that’s if they actually listened to the commercial and didn’t hit the TUNE or SCAN button first).

Newspaper Advertising

Newspapers have had their fair share of ups and downs since the emergence of digital media, but despite this, they have steadily maintained their local readership base and strength for local marketing.

Let’s take a look at the many advantages of newspaper advertising:

  1. Advertising in a newspaper is not seen as an interruption. In fact, numerous surveys have shown one of the reasons people buy newspapers is to view the ads for their local stores and businesses. Consumers do want and need to be exposed to advertising; they simply want ads on their own terms.

  2. A newspaper ad can be cut out and saved for later. This means your coupon or contact information can and usually will land on someone’s refrigerator or in their wallet or purse.

  3. Unlike radio, whose market share is often far less than first calculated, local newspapers consistently deliver to 50% or more of households. And they do it 365 days out of the year.

  4. Unlike radio, which is often playing in the background and not really heard, newspapers can deliver true consumer engagement. When a person reads an advertisement it’s because they choose to do so. They give their full attention to your message and will remember you when they need your product or service.

  5. You’ve probably heard newspaper subscriptions and readership have dropped in the last five years or so, and that’s somewhat true, but not to the extent that many would like you to believe. The other side of that coin is, the readership of the online versions of newspapers is growing rapidly, much faster than the 7% or so losses in the physical subscriptions.

You can see why many advertisers are steering away from radio advertising and back into traditional print media. Ideally, newspapers shouldn’t be your only medium of advertising, as a mix of channels always works best, but print media is a solid foundation on which you can build an effective marketing plan that will give you the greatest return on your investment.

Download this fact sheet and learn 10 reasons why newspapers are still an effective advertising channel.


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