Friday, 7 August 2009

Don't think all radio adverts should just be 30 seconds...

This week, my company was involved in a client pitch.

The presentation of radio commercials went well and after taking the potential new client through the document, I asked if there was anything that needed clarifying.

“The ads are longer than 30 seconds”, the client observed. I explained that the brief didn’t specify any preference for any specific length.

“We ONLY have 30 second ads” the client replied.

In my years of making radio adverts, I have always been concerned by this obsession with radio ads having to be 30 seconds ! It is a dreadful duration, namely because the length allows little-to-no time to set a good scene for the brand/product/service, promote the benefit and then close off with the call to action.

I know I am not the only Commercial Producer who has problems with this. In my capacity as a Voice Over, I am often sent 30 second scripts that struggle to be engaging in any way. There is an idea in there, but often it is undercooked because of the limitations of the duration.

I often wonder what life would be like if the ‘standard’ length of a radio advert was established as a 40 seconder ? Of course, there would be advertisers who would exploit this and broadcast ads that were packed to the rafters with easy-to-forget twaddle; but hunch tells me that many script writers would breathe a sigh of relief and create ads that would be far more engaging and so, more effective.

I know some stations are struggling with selling 100% of their airtime inventory, so I am wondering if they have nothing to lose by offering new and existing clients 40” commercials at the 30” rate on the understanding that their creative is given a thorough overhaul ?

Changing the subject a little, I am keen to hear what everyone thinks of Global Radio’s new initiative called ‘Radio Runner’. Recently publicised on the Radio Today website, Radio Runner is an application that allows advertisers to buy and create their radio advertising online. Currently, it’s only available in East Anglia but the objective is likely to be rolled out across the UK.

At the time of writing this article, my PC was unable to connect to But in an earlier visit I discovered that ‘buy and create’ are the two main buzzwords. You log in to a website, choose the station(s) you want to advertise on, select the advertising package and then pick from a selection of pre-written radio scripts the ad that most appeals or is most relevant to you. From there, you then fill in the gaps with your company name etc.

This initiative from Global is in more ways than one a real-eye opener and I would really love to know if whether you are for or against this kind of approach.

No doubt we’ll be returning to the subject of Radio Runner in the weeks and months to come.

John Calvert
Visit the Airforce website here.

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