Research Finds Radio Advertising Works

I’ve never heard a radio advertisement I liked – everything about them bugs me. From the fanatical announcer, to repeating of the phone number three or more times, the obnoxious jingles… everything.

Must give a little credit to Tom Shane from Shane Company whose voice is permanently ironed into my brain, with his slogan “now you have a friend in the diamond business.”

According to The Ringer, Tom Shane has been recording those ads with the same voice and tagline for over 45 years. So, that’s a heck of an investment for brand recognition! Even so, and at the end of the day, I prefer Kay’s slogan: “Every kiss begins with Kay.”

Everyone knows only effective advertising lasts, and radio advertising is truly an original method for message delivery. So, for statistics on radio advertising, we turn to Nielsen Media Research who claimed, in 2014, that “for advertisers, radio is worth listening to.”


One Nielsen study found a direct link between radio advertising and brick-and-mortar retail sales. Finding that each dollar of ad spend generated an average sales return of $6 from the listeners 28 days after they heard the ads.

The study evaluated multiple products/services. Two brick-and-mortar retailers evaluated generated more than 10 and 23 times the return in full on the high end, while a soft drink brand and breakfast bar pulled in less than two times the return on the low end.

Every brand enjoyed at least some return on the advertising investment – and – on average, radio drove 5.8 percent of total sales across the 10 brands evaluated.


Nielsen also found it important to note that radio ad response varies by audience segment. They measured response among African American and Hispanic households learning radio campaigns have substantially stronger impact on sales among both these demographics compared to total population (where statistically representative demographic samples were available).

There are even more interesting insights to be gained from the study referenced above like that radio advertising has a uniquely immediate impact in delivering sales and that the impact drops substantially and quickly over the course of three weeks.

Playing by the classic rules of business: “If it pays, it stays”, it would appear radio advertising isn’t fading away any time soon so I should think about investing in Sirius XM.

Are you surprised by Nielsen’s findings? Let us know your opinions on radio advertising by messaging us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Lee Sumner, Sr. Research Manager