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Radio Spot Length: Which is Right for Your Business?

By September 30, 2016Blog
radio spot length
Matt Sager

Matt Sager

To use a 30-second spot or a 60-second spot? That is the question. At least, it’s the question for businesses considering their radio advertising options.

Trying to choose the right length of creative when it comes to a radio spot can be a difficult choice. Do you go with a longer spot that may have more initial impact, or do you use a shorter spot that will give you more airplay? There are definitely pros and cons to each.

Choosing a 30-Second Radio Spot: The Pros and Cons

So you’ve decided to go with a 30-second spot. Good choice! You’ll get much more airplay with a shorter spot. A well-known principle of advertising is that frequency works.

There’s a rule in TV and radio advertising called “The Rule of 3s.” People generally retain information more readily if they’re exposed to it at least three times. That’s why you may hear phones numbers or URLs being repeated a few times in a single spot. This can also be accomplished by having the same spot repeat a few times in a single hour.

Since 30-second spots are less expensive to run than their 60-second counterparts, you can achieve more frequency with them. The production fees associated with a 30-second spot also are lower, since the script is shorter and most voice-over talent charges by the word.

There are a few downsides to a 30-second spot as well, though. If you have to abide by any co-op guidelines, this can greatly reduce the amount of time for your message. It can also be difficult to fit all the information into this short amount of time and still be creative. Additionally, the time constraints can cause the spot to be read a bit faster, making it harder for listeners to understand.

Choosing a 60-Second Radio Spot: The Pros and Cons

Or maybe you’ve opted to use a 60-second spot — also an excellent choice! You now have the ability to let the creativity run free. In this amount of time, you can take a narrative-focused approach and develop an entire story with characters. This can really help if the story is compelling and engaging.

Plus, there’s much more room to fit those co-op requirements. This spot length also allows for plenty of time to repeat certain information to really drive it home for the listener.

In terms of drawbacks, one big thing to consider with a 60-second spot is the cost. The longer the script, the more expensive it will be. The voice-over work will be more expensive as well. If you decide to go with a story and the voice-over turns into voice acting, this will greatly increase the cost as well. Paying to run a 60-second spot can be more expensive as well, so unless you have a larger budget, you may not be able to achieve the same frequency overall.

The last thing to consider with a longer spot is the modern-day attention span of most Americans. According to a Time Magazine article in 2015, the modern attention span is less than that of a goldfish:

“The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”

A 60-second radio spot greatly surpasses the now-standard eight-second attention span boasted by much of your audience. At the very least, you’ll need to create a highly engaging ad in order to take advantage of all that runtime.

Creative Defines a Campaign (No Matter How Long the Spot)

On one hand, 30 seconds is much longer than you might think. Go ahead, sit and watch a clock for 30 seconds. You’ll realize it really is a long amount of time. But on the other hand, if you’ve ever tried to tell a fully realized story in that amount of time, you’ll see it’s very difficult.

At the end of the day, do what works best for your creative vision. No matter what you decide to go with, the right creative can grasp the listeners’ attention. The creative team at Mediagistic can help you write and produce the best possible creative for your business. Reach out to us today for a comprehensive creative consultation for your radio advertising campaign.


Matt Sager is a Production Manager and In House Voice Over Talent for Mediagistic. With a B.A. in Television Production and Direction from the University of South Florida and a few years behind the mic at local radio stations, Matt’s experience makes him a perfect fit for his position at Mediagistic. In his free time he enjoys long rides on his motorcycle and consuming as much bacon as possible.