What are the average radio advertising costs for UK and USA

Sep 21, 2022 / Industry Insights / FOTW

You could be forgiven for believing that traditional radio is no longer relevant, considering the abundance of advertising choices available to businesses and the growing popularity of music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. That, however, couldn’t be further from the reality of the situation.

In the UK, nearly 49 million adults still listen to the radio, according to Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), the British radio equivalent of BARB for TV. In RAJAR’s Q2 2022 report, those 49 million people listened to the radio for 20.4 hours per week, on average. If you thought that those 20.4 hours of radio couldn’t possibly have been spent in a car, driving to and from work, you’d be right. Similar reports seem to suggest that about 68% of British people actually listen to the radio at home, with a majority through their smart speakers.

You may be wondering how the power of radio could be utilised by your company to boost its brand awareness and, perhaps more crucially, how much it would cost to run adverts on the radio. This article will not only cover everything you need to know about the prices of radio advertising, but it will also cover quite a bit more than that!

How radio advertising helps raise brand awareness?

Source: WHRO

The sheer number of individuals who still listen to the radio, which is 48.9 million, is an answer that should be self-evident to the question of how radio advertising increases brand awareness. Any company, no matter how big or how small, may increase their brand recognition and customer base by integrating radio into its overall marketing strategy and drawing from radio’s immensely vast audience.

Radio has the unique ability to drive immediate results compared to most other mediums, especially since a majority of radio listeners are at home. The medium is also highly cost-effective, allowing companies to pay for a much larger number of impressions and achieve further reach for a much smaller price tag compared to television advertising.

For a better understanding of how radio ads help boost brand awareness, consider the fact that businesses may anticipate receiving returns on investment (ROI) of 7.70 pounds for every single pound that they spend on radio,
as reported by RadioCentre.org.If that doesn’t convince you of the efficacy of radio advertising as a tool for marketing, then we don’t know what will!

What are the average rates for radio advertising in the UK and USA

Similar to calculating the cost of TV ads, radio advertising slots are typically sold on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis. This means that companies typically get charged a set amount of pounds to reach 1,000 listeners – which can vary greatly from station to station.

In the UK, the CPM for a radio ad slot is approximately £2 per 1,000 listeners, with the total cost rising and falling according to the average listener numbers at any given timeslot. For example, a morning radio “breakfast” show might have about 150,000 listeners, while an afternoon talk show might only have about 10,000. This means that, using the same example, businesses can expect to pay £300 for a 30-second slot during that morning slot or £20 for the afternoon slot. Of course, the reality can be vastly different.

It has been projected that companies may anticipate spending anywhere from £250 to £1,000 on weekly radio advertising in the UK. This figure is based on the average. Let’s compare those prices to those that are offered on the other side of the pond.

Companies who wish to advertise on American radio could expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $5000 per week, which is approximately £180 to £4400. The biggest factor affecting the cost of radio advertising in the US is location, location, location. Estimates suggest that a 30-second slot in New York is about $1400 (£1230), while the same time slot would cost about $94 (£83) in Las Vegas.

Regardless of whether you’re planning to take advantage of radio advertising in the UK or in the US to raise brand awareness, the cost of radio advertising in both countries can be affected by the same factors. Although you’ll be able to get a detailed cost breakdown when working with reputable advertising agencies or radio stations, you need to be aware of these influences so that you can be more informed about the ins and outs of radio advertising when making decisions.

What affects the cost of radio advertising

Source: Fivesquid

Again, very similar to the factors that affect the cost of TV advertising, there are also a handful of factors at play when it comes to radio ad pricing. Every one of these elements will have an effect on the reach and frequency of the advert for your company, which can also have a significant impact on the ROI. Let’s go through these five major aspects that have the potential to influence the cost of radio advertising:

1. Radio station

Possibly the biggest factor in how much radio ads cost is where you’re planning on placing your radio ad. A rule of thumb is the bigger, more popular a station is, the more likely it is that its CPM for advertising will be more expensive. You can definitely assume that you’ll be paying more to advertise on Absolute Radio – with a combined 9% reach across all Absolute Radio stations – compared to talkRadio, which only takes up about 1% of the overall reach pie, according to RAJAR.

2. Time slot

As you might expect, the time of day will affect the final price that you can expect to pay for a radio advertising slot. Even if a majority of Brits listen to the radio at home, there are still multitudes of people who would listen during their car journeys, making certain time slots more valuable than others. Any type of “rush hour” slot – such as “morning drive”, the radio equivalent of “breakfast”, or evenings – will have a higher CPM price tag compared to any other time of day.

3. Slot demand

The level of competition for the time slot that you are interested in purchasing on a particular radio station is yet another factor that can significantly impact the price that you pay for radio advertising. When compared to the “midnight” slot on the same station or even the same morning drive slot on Heart Radio, it is extremely reasonable to believe that the demand for morning drive slots on Absolute Radio is far higher than the demand for those slots on Heart Radio. As a result, the price tag for that highly sought-after morning drive time on Absolute Radio will have a more substantial price tag attached to it.

4. Ad length

Generally speaking, 30 seconds is considered to be the optimal length for adverts broadcast over the radio. However, there are also ones that are only 15 seconds long and even ones that are an entire minute long! The quantity of time that you need for your brand’s radio commercial is another factor that will affect the typical cost of radio advertising. As one might expect, time slots that are longer will cost more money than those that are shorter.

5. Ad frequency

Finally, one more factor affecting the cost of radio ads is how frequently you’d like your advert to play during a specific time slot. The final cost attached to ad frequency is typically calculated throughout the period of a week – although some stations may give you an estimate per month, too. You should definitely expect to pay more each airing if you want your radio commercial to play more often than once per time slot, per day within a week.

How to calculate radio advertising costs

Generally speaking, the price of a radio commercial can be determined by multiplying the number of potential viewers by the rate per thousand impressions (another way of saying “CPM”). However, as we mentioned just in the previous section, the number of listeners to any given radio station can change dramatically depending on factors like the time of day, the season, the specific station, and the popularity of individual shows. Therefore, it is impossible to provide a fixed rate for radio commercials.

5 best practices for radio advertising

Source: Backstage

Keen on penetrating that lucrative radio advertising market to help increase brand awareness, but you’re not sure where to start? Regardless of what industry you may be in, radio advertising, when utilised correctly, can pay off for businesses in many different ways. The least of which, much like some of the best TV adverts, leaves an impression on its audience for years to follow.

So, if you’re interested in grabbing this amazing opportunity and creating a radio advertisement of your own, keep in mind these five best practices so that you can ensure the best possible outcome for your next radio advertising campaign:

1. Know your audience

This is true for every medium available for brands to advertise on – from television to social media. In order to make the best possible radio advertisement, you need to start by understanding your audience on as deep a level as you can possibly go. Demographics are highly important, but so are radio listening and purchasing habits. For both those latter pieces of information, you’ll definitely need to put some work into discovering the answer.

Knowing your audience is key for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is so that you know where they will be listening and at what time. Take the time to do the research necessary to find the data you need – RAJAR is a great place to start. This information can help you target and pinpoint exactly which radio stations you’ll need to get in touch with to reach your audience and gives you a general idea of what time slots you’ll need to aim to purchase.

2. Grab their attention

The first two to three seconds of a radio advertisement are absolutely crucial to success. There are an average of 16.1 minutes of radio adverts for every hour of programming, with an average of 32 30-second ads played every hour. So, in order to ensure that you’re able to get a person to pay attention to your advert rather than tune it out, you’ll need to utilise those precious first seconds with a great “hook”.

But, ask yourself this: how many radio advertisements can you genuinely remember from your time listening to the radio today? This is because creating a captivating hook is definitely easier said than done. Since radio ad production relies solely on sound, you really have to get creative in order to pull your audience out of their zoning-out state as they’re going about their days on automatic – regardless of whether they’re driving to work or cooking dinner.

3. Focus on problem-solving

The best assumption you can make when creating a radio ad for your product or overall brand is that the audience listening to that radio ad doesn’t actually know what your product or brand is. One of the worse things you can do as a business owner is believe that everyone knows about your product – even if you’re raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds in sales! Your radio advert needs to change that by introducing your brand or product as if you’re introducing it to someone for the very first time.

Answering the following question in your advertisement should serve as a good rule of thumb for narrowing the focus of your ad: how does your product help enhance the lives of your customers? Always make sure to remind yourself to ask yourself this question anytime you plan on using a radio advertisement in the subsequent marketing strategy for your brand. The response to this question is essential to maintaining the interest of the radio audience because if your product will not be of any benefit to them, there is no reason for them to continue listening to your advertisement.

4. Good production value and voiceover talent

Even though radio advertising focuses on a lot less when compared to producing a TV advert, its production value can still make or break the success of the radio ad. If you haven’t got it on already, turn on a radio station right now and wait until the next ad break. Can you tell which ones put in the time and effort for your listening pleasure and which ones didn’t? If you could, then assume that plenty of other people can discern the same thing, too.

A great quality radio advertisement won’t have any “noisy” features, the same way that a great television advert won’t be blurry. When you decide to create a radio ad, make sure that you engage with a production company that offers only high-quality results. And while you’re planning your next big radio advert, remember to hire only experienced voiceover talent for your ad. While it might be the dream for you to grab a famous voice to read lines for your radio advert, that dream can cause your radio ad cost to go up much higher than it actually needs to be. Audition various talents and see what experience they bring to the table. Then, hire the best fit for your marketing goals.

5. Multichannel marketing tie-in

No bias from us intended, but the best thing you could possibly do for your radio advert is to combine it with other advertising mediums within an overall marketing strategy. Consider tying in your radio advert with something that your same target audience might catch on the telly the next time they turn it on or even while scrolling through their favourite social media app. The best marketing strategy is one where people can connect the dots from something they heard to something they saw, there’s a higher chance of leaving a much bigger impression than a single medium could ever do on its own! 

So the next time you’re planning on creating a radio advert for your brand or product, be sure to get in touch with an experienced advertising agency that would be more than happy to help you combine the awesome powers of the various mediums. This way, you’ll be sure to enjoy much greater success in not just raising brand awareness but increasing the overall ROI, too.


Now you know everything there is to know about not just ​​how much radio ads cost, but the factors that will affect the price tag attached as well as the best practices of creating a radio advert. You should, by this point, be aware of the power of radio advertising as well as the amount that you can expect your company to pay in order to make use of it. The possibilities offered by radio are virtually limitless; nevertheless, in order to fully realise those possibilities, you will definitely need to partner with an excellent advertising agency.

Keen on seeing what radio marketing can bring to your brand? Get in touch with an experienced advertising agency who’ll be able to help you get the job done!