What Is Radio Airtime?

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  • Written By: Jim B.
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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Radio airtime is a marketing term used to describe the amount of time available on radio stations for advertisements, in the form of radio commercials. Companies buy airtime, generally in the form of commercials lasting either 30 seconds or one minute, to advertise their products or services to consumers. Many marketers consider radio airtime to be very valuable, since consumers are often listening in their cars and are, therefore, a captive audience for commercials. The price of this airtime depends on the amount of commercials to be run, the placement of the commercials during the day and night, and the popularity of both the radio stations on which ads are placed and the size of the markets to which those stations cater.

Advertising has become much more complicated in the modern age, and it seems to become more complex each passing year. That is primarily because the number of possible advertising channels a company can pursue has expanded greatly, especially with the advent of increasing computer technology and applications. Still, radio advertising is a popular standby in this ever-changing sphere, and it can be an effective and cost-efficient channel if used properly. For those reasons, radio airtime can be an extremely valuable commodity for marketers to access.


In terms of its definition, radio airtime refers to the actual time purchased by an advertiser. For example, a company that has made a deal with a radio station to run six 30-second radio ads over the course of a single day has purchased three minutes of airtime. The real deals struck between advertisers and radio stations, however, are often far more complex.

That is because all airtime is not all equally valuable. For example, a commercial running in the wee hours of the morning on a station with few listeners is not nearly as valuable as one placed on a top-rated station during "drive time," the morning and afternoon hours during which many people travel to and from work. Drive time is the most coveted real estate in the world of radio advertising.

Simply buying radio airtime can be a waste of money if the ads which are placed are not effectively rendered. The art of radio advertising requires the ability to both engage the listener and deliver the necessary information all within a relatively short span of time. This can especially difficult in the case of products, since there is no visual representation to show the audience. Matching up the right radio ad with the purchased airtime can have outstanding benefits for both marketers and the companies that employ them.



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