Advertising on Radio: How to Give it a Modern Sound Features of Creating Radio Advertisements in the USA

Over the course of a month, we studied the trends in creating advertisements in contemporary American radio broadcasting. We listened to several hundred advertisements on popular radio stations broadcasting in North American megacities via the internet and share our observations.

Why the USA and not England, Germany, or France? Because the States have the world’s wealthiest advertising market. The first radio commercials in the USA aired in the 1920s. It is the experience of the founders of the industry that was used in creating the first commercial radio stations in Europe and Russia.

Innovations in marketing and media metrics, digital technologies, format findings, multimedia developments, and modern equipment – all of this often comes to Russian radio from across the ocean.

Observing the work of American colleagues helps in understanding the prospects and contemporary processes in broadcasting. Therefore, we primarily focused on the radio stations in New York (16.1 million), Los Angeles (11.2 million), and Chicago (7.9 million). These are the three largest cities in the USA.

On the Nielsen company’s website, we found popular radio stations in these markets. Using resources like TuneIn, IHeartRadio, and SiriusXM, we listened to the streams that interested us. Some radio stations can’t be listened to in Russia via the internet, so we used the Tunnel Bear program. We recorded using Total Recorder.

As a result, we selected a series of characteristic spots for you to listen to independently. The object of observation were radio stations Z100 (Pop Contemporary Hit Radio, New York, #4), KIIS FM (Pop Contemporary Hit Radio, Los Angeles, #1), WLUP (Classic Rock, Chicago, #9).

From what we heard, we made several conclusions about the production and placement of advertisements on American radio stations*:

  • Production departments and copywriters practice a maximally simple structure of the advertisement.
  • Two approaches are used in composing advertising blocks. Either the spots are maximally “dry”, contrasting with the station’s format (to bring radio from background listening, ads without music, voice and text), or advertising blocks are “disguised” as the stylistics of the station and resemble a continuation of the musical material and style of DJs (to reduce irritation from ads). The first option is more common.
  • A spot sometimes consists only of voice, the use of musical background is minimized. Maximum emphasis is placed on the text. Nothing distracts the listener.
  • Authors of selling texts use not aggressive “zombification” of the listener, but informing and forming an opinion about the product or service with elements of storytelling. The ad block is a kind service to the listener in the form of news, about where, what, and how you can buy to benefit the wallet and family budget.
  • Artificial sounds are rarely used in advertising. When possible, natural sounds and local atmospheres are used.
  • Often, only the website address is promoted without mentioning a phone number.
  • Contact information is repeated at least three times.
  • In modern American radio advertising, attention is paid to bright intonation and the use of a variety of voice timbres by announcers.
  • The length of advertising blocks exceeds 5 minutes. Some radio stations have only 2 or even one long advertising block.
  • The advertising block in the clock can take the place of traditional news time (beginning and middle of the hour).
  • The most common duration of a spot is 1 minute, very rarely 30 seconds, there are no short announcements.

It seems to us that the observations mentioned are extremely intriguing. The ways they can be utilized in the work of Russian radio stations could be quite varied.

It’s clear that foreign colleagues are focused on simplifying the listener’s interaction with their clients’ advertising information. The trend is evident, and the reason for its emergence is as well – the competitive environment is saturated both inside and outside the industry.

The effectiveness of such an approach in Russian radio advertising requires practical study, although some of the suggested techniques appear modern, understandable, and convincing even without preliminary testing.


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WP Radio