“There are Too Many Commercials” and Other Chicago Radio Station Red Flags


For advertisers, long commercial breaks are a legitimate concern. A long break can mean that your radio commercial will get lost in the mix, wasting your investment in the strategy and creative behind your spot. At the same time, listeners expect to hear commercials when they tune in and even develop trust in brands that advertise on their favorite stations.

Radio advertising professionals understand that the key is to limit the number of ads per stopset in order to avoid the risk of listener tune-out—and maximize their advertisers’ investment.

Does Your Radio Partner Limit Commercial Breaks?

It’s not just common sense that says long commercial breaks are a bad thing. According to a study by Edison Research, when given a choice between more (but shorter) and less (but longer) breaks, 54% opted for shorter/more breaks and only 31% voted for fewer/longer breaks (15% didn’t know or had no opinion). This is particularly true among certain music formats. (More than 60% of country, classic rock/classic hits, and urban radio listeners preferred shorter, more frequent spot breaks, while only 40% of public radio and 46% of news/talk/sports radio listeners indicated the same.)

Listeners’ annoyance with long commercial breaks is a reality that radio stations must take seriously. Long breaks cause tune out and dial changing, which means they don’t serve advertisers well, either. Listener engagement and recall is diminished as they change the channel, turn to their smartphone, or simply stop paying attention.

If the Chicago radio station you’re working with doesn’t have a policy that limits commercials breaks, it’s safe to say they could be putting your brand at risk in other areas, too.

Other Radio Station Red Flags

In addition to being aware of your radio station’s policy on commercial breaks, here are some other areas to consider:

  • Bumped spots.
    If your ad gets bumped because another advertiser wanted your time slot (and was willing to pay more for it), the implications for your marketing strategy are serious. When your radio commercial is ready to run, you’ve spent time and money to gain an understanding of your target audience, develop the right creative, and choose the best schedule—and your radio partner should have guided you through these decisions. If your ad gets bumped, it’s a breach of trust that can have a real impact on how well your ad performs. You may even get the idea that radio advertising just doesn’t work well for your business when that’s not the case at all.
  • Lack of attention to creative.
    According to new research from
    Nielsen, creative is the most important element of an ad in terms of driving sales. Weak creative can result in weak sales lift, sometimes erroneously blamed on the media platform. In addition, context is also important. Matching creative to the audience and programming environment for a station or specific time slot is an important part of developing an effective ad.
  • Lack of strategy.
    It’s important to consider how your radio advertising fits into your overall marketing strategy. Working with a radio partner that offers integrated marketing solutions helps increase the effectiveness of your radio ads. Your media professional should help you put together a strategy that includes radio and digital, such as display advertising and social media.

The Right Media Partner Won’t Lead You in the Wrong Direction

It’s essential for the success of your radio advertising that you work with a media partner who puts your goals and best interests first. Be on the lookout for the red flags noted above, and work with a partner who will enable you to fully embrace the power and potential of Chicago radio advertising.

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