Philly Business Owners Ask: How Long Should A Radio Commercial Be?

Aug 13, 2019 7:45:00 AM / by Larry Julius

Advertise On Philadelphia Radio Stations Length

Philadelphia radio stations offer different commercial length options to fulfill the marketing objectives and budgets of Delaware Valley small business owners.  The most common lengths are :60-seconds, :30-seconds, :15-seconds, and :10-seconds.

So, how long should a radio commercial on Philadelphia radio be? The simple answer: As long as necessary, but as short as possible.

According to "Seven Steps For Success", the length of a radio commercial should be determined, primarily, by the marketing objective of the underlying campaign.

Typically, achieving a branding objective requires 60-second commercials. At least at the beginning of a campaign.

Media expert Seth Godin describes brand as “a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Obviously, a message of this complexity would require a greater number of words, which requires more time.

Promotional objectives, on the other hand, seek to compel consumers to take a specific action.  This requires more commercials spread over multiple times-of-day on several radio stations to reach as many consumers possible.  By taking advantage of the lower cost of shorter duration commercials, 30-seconds for instance, advertisers can purchase the volume of commercials necessary to generate significant reach.

Reducing Length Does Not Reduce Effectiveness

Reducing the length of a radio commercial by half does not equate to a commensurate reduction of effectiveness.  Erwin Ephron, the architect of modern media planning, pointed out, “On a pro-rata basis, a :30 is worth half of a :60. On a communication basis, though, the difference is far smaller.” 

A recent study by Forethought Research supports Mr. Ephron’s assertion. According to the study’s authors, when the effectiveness of shorter and longer length was compared, they found “non-significant differences in rational and emotional performance.” The conclusion drawn was that “consumers evaluate advertising communications by moments and that duration is not a factor in this process.”

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Benefits Of Using Multiple Length Radio Commercials

There is no reason, however, that only one length of commercial should be deployed as part of an advertising campaign on Philadelphia radio.  One effective way to utilize multiple length ads is referred to as “sequencing”.

To sequence a campaign, the business owner begins with longer form commercials.  In time, shorter length commercials are mixed in. This enables the advertiser to generate greater reach or frequency without increasing the overall investment.

Sequencing is effective because the human brain has the tendency to “thin slice”, a term coined by author Malcolm Gladwell.  This means, that after multiple exposures to an advertiser's commercial, the consumer can recognize and recall the substance the message after only a few seconds.

How Many Words Are In A Radio Commercial

Once a Delaware Valley small business owner determines the length of their commercials, then the question becomes, how many words can be used.  Here is a handy chart to use as a guide:

Approximate Number of Words In A Typical Radio Commercial:

How To Advertise On Philadelphia Radio

Note: When numerals are used in a  commercial, they translate to multiple words. For instance, the number 22 is actually two words: twenty and two. Web addresses are also multiple words. converts to five words: Advertise, In, Philadelphia, dot, and com.  Also, using multiple multi-syllable words will drive down the word count.  Phone numbers are at least seven words, ten if the area code is included.

The two sentences below both have ten words, but the second would take twice as long for an announcer to read than the first.

  • The duck flew at night to steer clear of light.
  • Mallards routinely circumnavigate evening skies to ultimately evade daytime luminosity.

Tips To Create A Memorable Radio Commercial

There is no single formula for creating effective ads for Philadelphia radio stations. What follows, though, are 11 proven guidelines to assist in the creation of an effective radio commercial.

  1. Start strong… a listener’s attention needs to be engaged within the first 3 or 4 seconds of a commercial.
  2. Be concise… use only words and sounds that link to the marketing objective. Extraneous words or too many selling points will cause a listener to disengage.
  3. Be consistent… use the same voices, music, and sounds to establish an audio identity across commercial campaigns. This can trigger instant brand recall.
  4. Be repetitive… the name of the advertiser should be repeated often to allow for an ebb-and-flow of a listener’s attention.
  5. Add surprise… a listener’s attention is drawn to the unexpected. This can be achieved by using multiple voices, interesting word choices, avoiding clichés, and changing the speaker’s tones and volume.
  6. Tell a story… listeners are hardwired to emotionally respond to features and benefits when presented in story-form rather than as a list. The advertiser should be the hero of the story.
  7. Write for the ear… radio commercials should sound like the way we speak, not the way we write. Humans don’t apply the same set of rules to speech that they do to written communication. When speaking, we often use broken sentences, non-sequiturs, and awkward phrasing. A listener’s attention is more likely to be drawn to this type of natural speech.
  8. Talk… listeners prefer to be “talked with” not “announced at”. Stereotypical radio voices should be replaced with the same tones and manner used to talk with friends.
  9. Use humor cautiously… humor is a good way to command attention but can be difficult to execute well. Be certain that the humor in a radio commercial will resonate positively with the target consumer.
  10. Finish strong… not every listener will engage with a commercial at the same time. So, it is critical to finish by reinforcing the key points presented throughout. This includes restating the advertiser name and the key marketing message.
  11. Expand… there is no reason an advertising campaign can’t use multiple commercials. In fact, it is encouraged as long as the first ten guidelines on this list are adhered to…especially #3.

More Great Advertising Advice For Delaware Valley Business Owners

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Topics: Delaware Valley Small Business Owner, Philadelphia Small Business Owner, Small Business Advertising, Advertise On Philadelphia Radio Stations, Advertise In Philadelphia, Advertising Advice, Advertising In Philadelphia, Effective Advertising., Effective Radio Commercials, commercial length

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