Celebrating 100 (or more!) years of radio ads
28 August 2022 marks the hundredth official commemoration of Radio Commercial Day! We’ve come a long way since the first Radio stations in the 19th century, which only transmitted morse code before technology advanced to allow voice transmissions. By the 20th early century, transmission technology grew leaps and bounds!
Voice messages could then be shared for the first time, though voice transmission was initially exclusive to the military and US government. For example, did you know that President Roosevelt famously went on air to explain what happened in Pearl Harbour?
The First Radio Ad in History
While the first weekly radio broadcasts are thought to have come from California in 1912, it would be another decade before radio ads would run in the US.
When asked what was the first ever radio ad, some would answer it was a sponsored ad for Remick’s music store, aired in the United States in 1922. Officially, the very first radio commercial is thought to be a real estate ad promoting Queensboro Realty on the New York station, WEAF. But what if we told you that both dates are wrong? Other sources say that the first ever radio ad in the world was actually a twelve second advert in 1893 for a Hungarian telephone broadcasting service!
Regardless of who got there first, by the 1940s, radio ads were prolific in the US, with Britain following suit only in 1973. This was because until then, the BBC held a monopoly over British airwaves.
What are the Benefits of Radio Ads?
Many people assume that radio is dead – there’s even a song about it! Is this just ‘video propaganda’, or is there some truth behind ‘video killed the radio star?’
Statistics sing an entirely different tune; radio ads on average deliver a jaw dropping 770% ROI! AM/FM Radio made up 76% of US daily audio time as of Q4 2021 according to the latest Edison Research ‘Share of Ear’ report. This hasn’t been ignored by advertisers in the audio space, who invested $14.8 billion on radio ads in 2021 – and that’s just in North America!
Other benefits include:
Radio audiences gravitate around a radio show due to a shared interest or goal, which makes them a better target than a more general marketing channel.
It is fairly simple to create short, straightforward ads for radio stations in a matter of minutes, which can then be played multiple times to ingrain ad messaging in the minds of listeners.
We tend to remember audio more than visuals. Echoic (or auditory sensory) memory can also evoke a stronger emotional response from audiences which can further strengthen recall of radio ad messaging versus visual ads.
Print and TV ads are more resource-intensive, yet deliver less ROI compared to radio ads!