Why 80 % of Radio Ads FAIL by Ryan Ghidoni



Ryan Ghidoni

By Ryan Ghidoni

PSR Contributor


Thursday July 28th, 2016



Audio Active Advertising – Rerun of Episode 7: Why 80 % of Radio Ads FAIL

Alec Baldwin as Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)



There are four stages every consumer goes through before buying something. They are Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA for you Glengarry Glen Ross fans).


Awareness: An ad catches your attention.


Interest: You become interested in the product because you can see a benefit.


Desire: You want the product because you strongly believe the purchase will make your life better and/or result in a satisfaction of needs.


Action: You decide that now is the time to act and buy.


Understanding the four sequential AIDA steps of the buying process is very important…because ignoring them is why 80% of radio ads fail.


AIDA RADIO FAIL #1: Ads that only focus on Awareness.


“Vespa of Calgary has been serving Calgary for 23 years by meeting your scooter needs.”


“At Joe’s Hamburgers we make hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and onion rings.”


“Morgan Downey Insurance was formed when Pete Morgan decided to team up with Alison Downey.”


“Jemison Bath Houses are located at 843 Main Street, 1652 Appleton Avenue, and our new location at 529 Jarvis Street next to Murray’s Massage Parlor.”


Sound familiar?


These ads start the buying process by creating awareness of who the business is, what they sell and where they are. Then they STOP…and hope the listener will magically go through the remaining 3 steps on their own. BUT here is what really happens:


10,000 people become AWARE (Your audience might be bigger but most of them tune out awareness ads)

1,000 go on to become INTERESTED

100 people end up with DESIRE for the product.

1 person ACTS on the sales message.


The client concludes that radio doesn’t work and moves their budget to social media.


If you want to keep your clients…you need to make sure their ads go beyond AWARENESS and take the consumer further down the buying process.




Stop focusing solely on the FEATURES of the product.


Instead create INTEREST by talking about how the product will BENEFIT the customer.

“When you ride a Vespa Scooter from Vespa of Calgary, you will save up to $126 a month on gas!”


OR create DESIRE by telling them how the product will have a positive RESULT in their life by solving a problem or satisfying a need.

“Is your daily commute the worst part of your day? Discover the freedom and jazzy joy of a Vespa Scooter and start enjoying the ride.”


“Do you feel like you’ve reached an age where nothing is new and everything is routine? Surprise yourself…with a Vespa Scooter and feel like you’re 21 again.”

February 7, 2011: Billy Joel is seen having lunch and walking on Lincoln Road Mall before departing on his Vespa scooter in Miami Beach, Florida. Credit: INFphoto.com Ref: infusmi-11/13|sp|
February 7, 2011: Billy Joel is seen having lunch and walking on Lincoln Road Mall before departing on his Vespa scooter in Miami Beach, Florida.
Credit: INFphoto.com Ref: infusmi-11/13|sp|



Focus on BENEFITS and RESULTS to create INTEREST and DESIRE and then…


10,000 become INTERESTED

1000 people end up with DESIRE for the product.

100 people ACT on the sales message.




10,000 people end up with DESIRE for the product.

1000 people ACT on the sales message.


Why bother with INTEREST at all then? Why not skip directly to DESIRE?


Because in reality… Creating INTEREST will cast a wider net. You have to be much more specific with the target to create DESIRE. The BENEFIT of saving on gas appeals to everyone. The RESULT of feeling young again only appeals to people who feel old. The RESULT of a more enjoyable commute only appeals to people who hate their drive to work.


AIDA RADIO FAIL #2: Ads that skip the first three steps and only try to generate ACTION.


“The time to buy is NOW. You have only 10 days to save.”


“Buy today to take advantage of ZERO percent financing.”


“Buy one…Get One free at the BOGO sale.”


These ads explain the details about why the consumer should act immediately but fail to establish why they would want the product in the first place. This approach will fail because nobody is interested in saving 50% off something they don’t want or need.


Image from http://epadv.com/2012/06/01/hard-sell-broadcast-print-web/



Instead get them INTERESTED and THEN show them what fun action will help them find out more:


Announcer: There are over 68 different fixings at Joe’s Burgers. Some of them are kind of weird and unexpected.

Male 1: Spaghetti?

Female 1: Crushed barbecue chips?

Announcer: BUT we’re willing to get weird…so you can build the perfect burger. Download Joe’s “Burger Time” app now and start experimenting with yours.




Create desire and show them how and why they should take action today and buy:


Announcer: This is the sound of the first bite of a Joe’s Burger.

Sound Effect: Slow over emphasized juicy crunch.

Announcer: You can almost hear the thick cut apple smoked bacon, garden fresh organic tomatoes and tangy crushed garlic sauce.

Sound Effect: Slow over emphasized juicy crunch.

Announcer: These are only 3 of the 68 burger fixings at Joe’s. If today is the one day you’re going to break your diet and grab a burger…make it the perfect burger…at Joe’s Burgers. Stop buy for lunch today and get a free diet Pepsi…ya know…so you can still kinda feel like you didn’t cheat.


Image from http://www.rantlifestyle.com/2014/04/07/10-best-burgers-los-angeles-n/


So combine INTEREST + ACTION or DESIRE + ACTION in your 30 second ad.


ACTION should never be the sole focus of an ad unless:


DESIRE is already through the roof. Like Cabbage Patch Dolls in the 80s and iPhones in the 2Ks.   




The product is a common purchase with a short buying cycle that everyone needs like bread, milk and toilet paper.


Ryan Ghidoni is an 18-year veteran of radio advertising and has worked with some of the most creative sales reps, writers, producers and voice talent in the business.

CHECK OUT “Audio Active Advertising” every week on Puget Sound Radio.


Email Ryan: Ry**@Au********************.com 


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  1. All really good points which leads me to wonder why more ads sounds so bad compared to the ones that work. In Toronto certain ads come on and I flip because they are so bad or produced poorly. The worst ones are the stations that advertises a live to air or live on location with such and such host. You hear the ad and know it’s terribly written and produced. All it does is makes me avoid what it is they are pushing.
    Personally I like ads that are creative and well done. Especially during events like this Superbowl, or in October during the jays playoff run there were good radio spots during broadcasts. I hope with his post people take your advice and create better spots. It doesn’t take long to make an ad sound professional.


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