Comparison Of Radio With Other Advertising Mediums

Newspaper Advertising + Radio

For the past 30 years, if there has been a soundtrack for Radio's battles against newspaper, it would have to be "The Impossible Dream" from The Man of La Mancha.

To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...

In more contemporary terms, we would have to say that newspaper has been Radio's daddy for decades. Advertisers have been so convinced that they had to be in the newspaper that they have continued to give the medium the lion's share of their ad budgets in spite of arrogant pricing and lackluster service. Meanwhile, Radio salespeople have had to prove themselves and our medium constantly in return for table scraps.

On This Page

  • Newspaper VS. Radio Advertising Historically
  • Advantages Of Newspaper Advertising
  • Current Status of Newspaper/Radio Advertising Rivalry
  • Disadvantages Of Newspaper Advertising
  • Benefits of Using Both Radio and Newspaper Advertising Together

Newspaper VS. Radio Advertising Historically

While it's true that commercial Radio has been around for almost a century, newspaper is almost two-and-a-half times older. With longevity comes credibility, and newspaper is considered to be part of America's very foundation.

Another thing advertisers find compelling about newspaper is that their competitors also use it. Many believe they have to be in the newspaper for that reason alone.

On a more practical basis, newspaper is definitely effective at providing advertisers with a visual representation of their goods and services.

Newspaper also allows advertisers to list a lot of details and technical information.

Finally, newspaper is where consumers habitually go for prices and sales when they have made the decision to buy. Those are some pretty good justifications, and you run the risk of looking self-serving and less than credible if you tell a client or prospect that advertising in the newspaper is foolish.

Advantages Of Newspaper Advertising

  • History

    One of the oldest, most highly regarded media in the U.S. Among its loyal readers and advertisers, it enjoys a high degree of familiarity, acceptance, credibility and respect.

  • Visuals

    The newspaper's combination of text and graphics, when used effectively, can create visual appeal that reinforces the messages of its advertising.

  • In-Depth

    Newspaper ads have the ability to communicate lengthy, complex or detailed information and descriptions.

  • Mass Audience

    Newspapers reach a relatively large mass audience throughout the market with a single exposure. A single ad in the newspaper typically can create more impressions than a single commercial on television, a single Radio commercial, a single outdoor billboard, or single insertion in any other medium.

  • Ad Variety

    The medium offers a variety of ad sizes that allow advertisers to meet their budgetary constraints, from a one-column-inch ad to two full-page ads side by side called a double-truck.

  • Ease of Tracking

    It's relatively easy to track response, primarily through couponing.

  • Lead Time

    Advertisers can place orders and copy with a relatively short lead time.

  • Exposure

    The reader controls the amount of exposure to a given ad. They can spend as much or as little time with an ad as they like.

  • Geographic Targeting

    Zoned editions of newspapers in large metro areas allow for less than full-run advertising.

Current Status of Newspaper/Radio Advertising Rivalry

Demographic Limitations and Declining Cirulation of Newspapers

Demographically, if an advertiser is targeting consumers younger than 55, newspaper will not be as effective. According to the Newspaper Association of America, 34% of individuals ages 18-34 read a daily newspaper in 2007, compared to 64% of those ages 55+. Circulation for the nation's major daily papers continues to trend downward, based on Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

When you compare their decrease in circulation to the astronomical rate increases most newspapers are imposing on their advertisers, it's not hard at all to raise the question of value, and let the clients answer it for themselves.

Newspaper Ads Lack Emotional Communication

While newspaper is great at communicating price to consumers who have made the decision to buy, it does a very poor job of communicating the emotional value of a product or service, and we all know people decide to buy based on emotion. People who do read the newspaper usually don't read every section, and most people who see an ad in the newspaper don't recall the ad after they've seen it.

Frequency Is Cost-Prohibitive With Newspapers

Finally, the most important concern is the inability of most local advertisers to afford an effective level of frequency. Frequency is critical to the branding process, and it is cost-prohibitive for most of the advertisers you are calling on.

Newspaper + Radio: Increased ROI With Same Budget

The most effective strategy is to explain the benefits of simply reducing the size of the client's ad and reallocating the savings into Radio. It's been said that opposites attract, and the polar differences between Radio and newspaper make them a very attractive advertising combination for clients who want to see a substantial increase in their return-on-investment without an increase in the investment itself.

It's time for all in Radio sales to wake up to the fact that converting newspaper dollars into Radio schedules is no longer "the impossible dream."

Disadvantages Of Newspaper Advertising

  • Decreasing Penetration

    Gone are the days when almost every American household subscribed to at least one newspaper. Today, newspaper's household penetration is right around 50%. (RAB Newspaper Performance Reports, based on ABC data, are available for most U.S. markets.) (Media Life, )

  • Ad Clutter, No Separation

    Your ad placed next to your competitors' can only be an advantage if your price is absolutely the lowest.

  • Passive

    The paper provides information once consumers decide to buy, but it does not build brand awareness or create product demand. Newspaper advertising thus works mainly for comparing prices.

  • Browsers, Not Readers

    Most people don't read all sections of the paper every day. Ads in a given section reach only those who read that section.

  • Can't Target

    It's difficult to accommodate selective approaches that improve your cost efficiency and enhance frequency against clearly defined, high-potential customer segments.

  • Couponing is Declining

    Despite increased coupon face value, redemption has been declining for years.

  • New Competition from Outside

    One of newspaper's ad categories (classifieds) is under attack both from Internet sites and savvy Radio stations.

Benefits of Using Both Radio and Newspaper Advertising Together

Radio Excels

Where newspaper is deficient, Radio excels. Combining the two in a media mix capitalizes on the advantages of both media.

Excellent Reach

Radio reaches 74% of every American aged 12 and older every day. Radio reaches 93% every week. Using Radio together with newspaper increases the reach of your advertisement among light readers and younger consumers.


Radio reaches 63% of shoppers age 25-54 within one hour of purchase time - providing the greatest "purchase proximity" of all major media. Combining Radio with newspaper allows you to influence more customers and closer to the point of purchase when they are most receptive to critical marketing information.(Arbitron, 2005)

Linear Medium

Commercials featured one at a time: Radio is a linear medium, unlike newspaper where the reader can skip past ads. The listener hears commercials between other programming elements.


The success of your marketing strategy depends greatly on how you reach and motivate your customers before their decision to purchase has been made. The intimate power of Radio can stimulate new demand by creating emotional reasons to buy your product and then directing customers to the newspaper for detailed information. It can help maintain loyal customers by keeping your name or brand image top-of-mind.

Listeners Hear Commercials

Newspapers like to be judged on how many subscribers or readers they have, not on how many people read an ad. Radio judges itself on how many people are available hear a commercial (Average Quarter Hour). Newspaper readership is more comparable to Radio's cume audience.


Radio programs many different formats, each attracting a particular demographic or lifestyle listener. Advertisers targeting a specific audience often find Radio more efficient than newspaper.

Message Frequency

Radio adds impact through message frequency. That means bigger and faster results because repetition sells.

Radio Advertising Effectiveness Laboratory

Additionally, information in the RAL study on Synergy shows when used in conjunction with newspaper, the use of Radio added 100% of total brand recall when compared to newspaper alone.

Other Advertising Mediums

Comparison of radio with other advertising mediums and how they can work together

  • Newspapers
  • Outdoor
  • Internet
  • Point of Purchase
  • Direct Mail
  • Yellow Pages
  • Broadcast TV