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  • Writer's pictureStephen Pollock

Radio advertising in the eye of the storm. Or the ear of the storm, at least.

Just when you thought the trials and tribulations of 2020 were over, hello 2021!

The pandemic rages on. Money gets even tighter. Insurrectionists battle in the world’s leading democracy. Big Data gets bigger-er. Heck, even the SANDF is facing a formidable new enemy: surfers on the Garden Route.

Yet, there is hope on the horizon. Thanks to Pfizer, Moderna, and a host of vaccine-developing companies, this dastardly disease is hopefully, and finally, seeing the dark at the end of its tunnel.

For the moment though, it remains (sluggish) business as usual. Marketing departments of large companies, and owners of small, struggle to find new ways to generate profits, and in many unfortunate cases, even stay afloat.

So, which forms of media are best suited for surviving these tempestuous waters?

The internet, and social media, still ride the crest of the wave.

There’s no argument. For them, COVID has been a boon. They have long been in the ascendency, but now more and more people are surfing and transacting, and, what’s more, from home.

More and more people are ordering food, books, and every other staple, and non-staple, online. And, of course, streaming TV is a burgeoning source of entertainment.

But guess what? Radio advertising supports this digital world.

Radio advertising is no hog of the limelight. In fact, quite the opposite. Radio knows its place - yet it plays a vital role. It calls its listeners to action, and drives people online, so that they visit websites, browse social media pages, and transact in the cloud.

Radio advertising in South Africa maintains its position as the broadcast medium that reaches more people than any other. As such, it invites the widest audience to engage online, to consider your brand, to interact with it, and find out more.

Radio has something other broadcast media don’t. The personal connection.

The most powerful relationships are human. Radio knows this. It is a broadcast medium that speaks and bonds with people as individuals, even though there are millions of us.

Plus, other broadcast media spoon-feed their audiences with flashy visuals and ‘this way to the joke’. Radio doesn’t. It invites people to make the connection themselves. It takes us places, both fantastical, and the everyday, because we all want to escape, especially from this virulent virus.

Radio encourages, and lives upon, loyalty.

People are loyal to their favourite radio stations and their favourite DJ’s and personalities. With television, the loyalty is to the programme, not the channel. Radio’s different. Its loyalty has stood the test of time. It’s a relationship made concrete by companionship, empathy, trust, and compassion.

And it’s the kind of loyalty that people spread. Word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising. That’s radio, one person talking, or singing, to another.

Radio advertising in South Africa is targeted.

With such a wide range of station choices, radio is the most targeted medium.

Car dealership in Pretoria? There’s a radio station for that. Public service announcements in a far-flung rural area? There’s a radio station for that. Consumer goods for sale to the whole country? There’s a radio station for that too.

What does that mean? That means you reach the people you want to reach, and only those people. So? No wastage of advertising budgets.

You can’t skip ad breaks with the touch of a button.

One of radio advertising’s most powerful attributes is its intrusiveness. There are low levels of ad avoidance. As long as the radio is on, listeners are going to hear the ads, whether they like it or not.

Think about it. Streaming TV these days don’t even have ad breaks. And when it comes to the YouTubes of the world, who wants to listen to an ad, when your favourite song is right after 3…2…1… Skip ad.

Does the businessperson inside you want the numbers?

Daily listening time on radio in South Africa averaged out at 3 hours and 36 minutes in 2020. A weekly audience of almost 36 million people tune into radio via a variety of devices, listening to 24 commercial stations (21 private and three SABC public/commercial), 16 SABC public service broadcasting stations, and 264 community stations.

Seventy-one percent listen on standalone radios, but more and more people are listening in different forms, as cell phones (33%), vehicle radio (24%), TV (13%) and computer streaming (2%) become more popular.

And radio is the most resilient media.

Radio has been around longer than all of us. Well, most of us, at least. It’s 100 years old. It’s seen world wars, moon landings, and even an orange haired man being booted off social media.

Rumours of radio’s demise have always been greatly exaggerated. Yet, market share of radio advertising still is, and always has been, between 12% and 14%.

So, reach your audience’s ears - and their wallets. Use radio advertising.

Get in touch with FaceForRadio, and we’ll help you harness the power of radio advertising. Visit us at or call 084 221 4657.

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