What Are the Different Costs of Radio Advertising?

Jeremy Laukkonen

The different costs of radio advertising can be broken down into the two main categories of creative development and media buying. Creative development involves costs such as scripting the ad, salaries for voice actors, and studio time to record the piece. These can be relatively minor costs or may be very expensive, depending on how professional the production is. The costs of radio advertising associated with media buying are typically the the most expensive of the two categories. This process typically involves purchasing some test slots and then expanding or altering the campaign depending on the results.

A DJ sometimes reads a sponsor's advertisement.
A DJ sometimes reads a sponsor's advertisement.

At the beginning of any new radio campaign, the first step is typically creative development. The exact process can differ between campaigns and depend largely on the budget, though a script is usually written first. This work can be hired out to a professional copywriter or done in house to save money. Some production companies will also perform this and all subsequent steps in the creative development process for a fee.

Airtime fees are the most costly expense of the radio advertising process.
Airtime fees are the most costly expense of the radio advertising process.

The next cost associated with creative development is typically the voice actors. This is another aspect that can be handled by a production company, though either professional or amateur voice actors may be used depending on the budget. Salaries for voice actors is one of the major costs of radio advertising, or an owner or employee of the business may suffice instead of a voice professional. In other cases, the ad copy may be read directly by a radio disc jockey or host.

If the commercial is being professionally produced, there will typically also be other production costs involved. There may be charges for studio time, audio mixers, and sound effects work. These are all costs of radio advertising that can vary depending on the type of commercial and the budget. A professional production is typically more expensive, though it may be more effective as well.

After the commercial has been produced, the media buying phase can begin. In most cases, the fees associated with buying airtime are the most expensive costs of radio advertising. The chosen media market can have a large effect on the costs, though variables such as the length of the ad, number of stations, and the frequency that it plays can also be considered. Large media markets and radio stations with extensive listening audiences usually cost more. The frequency that the ad runs can also affect the costs of radio advertising.

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