Radio has long played a special part in the American experience. It’s been in our cars, workplaces, backyards and the bedrooms of Boomers bopping to the Beatles, Gen Xers tuning in to the Top 40 and Millennials streaming Pandora. Today, even in an age of visual dominance, data suggests traditional radio is still strong, and online radio keeps getting bigger. So as part of the right media mix, audio ads can be particularly effective for your money. Our take: as long as they’re done right. Your commercials, particularly for healthcare marketing, must be tailored with your brand attributes and quality in mind.

Radio relevance

Did video kill the radio star, and in turn the radio spot? Not really. Most Americans still tune in regularly, just in increasingly different ways. Consider the numbers.

Traditional AM/FM radio

It still regularly reaches the majority of Americans:

  • 91% of Americans listen weekly, according to Pew
  • 59% of Americans tune in daily—with 112 minutes of per capita listening, according to Statista

Online and Satellite

Services like Spotify, Jango and are fast filling earbuds, though cumulatively they remain a smaller and more fragmented share than traditional radio.

  • More than 50% of Americans listened to online radio in the past month, Pew reported in 2015, double the amount since 2010
  • Sirius XM satellite radio had 35 million subscribers in 2015
  • 35% of adults reported listening to online radio via cellphone in the car last year, up from 6% in 2010

Tough buying choices

With all the formats available in traditional and online radio, choosing the right mix is no small task. As your team does its homework, consider the frequency that’s needed to counteract the limited reach of fragmented audiences. And be sure to analyze the formats, day-parts and ad flights needed to hit the right people often enough (without hitting them so much in one place and time that listeners want to hit you back).

Creative: tune into your brand

With a plan in place, you can hire anyone to create it, right? Umm … Just because you can make spots relatively quickly (as compared with TV, for instance) doesn’t mean you want to forego your brand and quality standards. If the allure of “fast and cheap” speaks to your organization, then be ready to be perceived that way—or to simply be ignored in the sea of often annoying “bad” ads: the ill conceived, quickly assembled, formulaic, often loud approaches that aim to cut through the clutter but end up adding to it.

Quiet can get attention too. Consider the pacing, pauses, sound effects, music and voices selected. Yes, you need to get attention right away in radio. Yes, you want a focused message with a single take-away. But do it in a memorable way that matches your brand. Ask if it’s smart, funny or plain old emotionally resonant, which is neither plain nor old when done well.

How to get there? As with any effective marketing, it starts with sound strategy geared toward your audience and, in this case, finishes with savvy writing, casting and production.

Sample healthcare spots

When you follow a concept-to-completion process, you’re more likely to stand out in the right ways. Here are a few examples of approaches we’ve taken.

Humor me

A service line like orthopedics or urgent care affords the chance to be playful for dialed-in demographics and radio formats.

Pluck heartstrings 

Pacing, tone and composition is vital to creating the right mood in the medium of sound—and attracting attention to a life-saving campaign.

Sing it » 

Sometimes a song can say it all, and form the bedrock for other creative, like video.



The announcer read is a simple, prevalent approach for events or awareness marketing. Elevate the approach with a carefully selected voice and overall audio branding.

Take away

As a health system, hospital or other healthcare brand that has carefully cultivated messaging and brand reputation in other media (television, outdoor, paid social, et al.), why turn over the strategy and creative to just anyone for radio? When you give the medium the attention it deserves, your brand is more likely to get the attention it deserves.

Want to talk further? You’ve got our ear.

Contact us about nailing a strategy, making award-winning work and getting results you can measure.