How Long Is a Radio Ad? A Simple Guide to Choosing the Right Length

How long is a radio ad?

That question is relatively easy to answer.

Depending on the channel you choose for your advertising campaign, you can purchase ads that last 15, 30, or 60 seconds.

Some stations also offer “mentions,” which involve having a host reference your company at some point during a show or playlist.

The real question is how long should a radio ad be to generate the best results?

Though today’s companies and business leaders have a variety of channels available to them for advertising, radio still represents an excellent opportunity to connect with your audience.

This is because 92 percent of Americans still listen to the radio regularly.

However, making the most of your radio ad requires more than cultivating the best message.

You also need to get the length right too.

Waffle on for too long, and you risk your listeners changing the channel. Make your ad too short, and you could fail to give your customers the information they need to take action.

So, what’s the perfect length?

What to Consider When Choosing a Radio Ad Spot

As mentioned above, the radio ad “segments” offered by stations can vary depending on the channel you choose to work with.

For example, some stations only provide 30 or 60-second ads, while others allow you to take advantage of 10 or 15-second spots.

The ideal length of a radio ad will depend on a few factors.

Before you pick the ideal segment, it’s worth considering the following.


Woman recording a guitar part for a radio ad
You must consider your budget when determining the length of your radio ad.

Until 2005, most radio ad slots were priced precisely the same, regardless of length. Spaces were delivered on an inventory-based system.

Most businesses chose 60-second ads (the longest option) to get the most value from their money.

However, in 2005, Clear Channel Communications changed the radio advertising landscape by introducing new tiered price lists, which took the length of the ad into account.

If you have a limited budget, choosing a shorter ad and playing it numerous times throughout the day might generate better results than paying for a single, long ad.


When producing any marketing campaign, it’s always worth considering your audience’s preferences.

While the average human attention span is around eight seconds, some generations are likelier to listen to longer ads than others.

For instance, according to one study, shorter commercials generally prompt higher recall among younger customers (aged between 23 and 24).

However, older customers interested in learning about your product may be willing to stick around for longer.

The Message

One of the most important things to consider when choosing the correct length for a radio ad is what you will say in your commercial.

Ultimately, the most effective size for any radio advertisement is the time it takes to get your message across. So while brevity is essential, you must also ensure you’re providing your customers with all the right information.

If you need to share important details about an upcoming sale or event, and you can’t provide all of the information your customers will need in 10 seconds, you may need to choose a longer ad space.

Don’t squeeze 60 seconds of information into 15 seconds, or your ad won’t send the right message.

The Best Length for Radio Ads: Your Options

Smiling woman wearing a white shirt and headphones looking at her phone and listening to music while sitting on her couch
Radio ads are typically 15, 30, or 60 seconds. No matter which length you choose, you must captivate the listener’s attention fast.

Once you’ve considered these three factors, you’ll find it’s much easier to decide the length of your radio commercial.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing the right length, most experts would agree that shorter is often better with radio ads.

Customers listen to the radio to keep up with the news, listen to music, and source entertainment. The longer they’re forced to listen to ads, the more likely they are to change the channel.

Here are some quick guides on when each standard ad length makes sense.

15-Second Ads

Ten or 15-second ads are generally best when you have a short, simple message to share.

If you just want to let your audience know that they can save money in your summer sale, you probably don’t need a full 60 seconds to do that.

If you can highlight the value of your offer, show your company’s personality, and generally drive engagement in 15 seconds, take advantage of the smaller slot.

Paying for a smaller segment on a radio channel will also mean you’ll have more budget left over. You can pay to have your ad repeated numerous times throughout the day.

You could also combine your radio advertising strategy with other promotional methods, such as social media, email, and content marketing online.

30-Second Ads

The 30-second ad is often a good middle ground for companies with too much to say to accommodate a 15-second slot but doesn’t want to bore their listeners.

If your company exists in a relatively well-understood market, and your offer doesn’t require a lot of explanation, you can still draw significant attention to the values you’re offering in 30 seconds.

If you currently have a 60-second ad script, but you’re worried it’s going to drone on for too long, look for ways you can shorten the message.

Remove unnecessary words and statements, and focus on making bold, exciting statements.

60-Second Ads

As the most extended ad slot offered by most radio stations, the 60-second ad is often the most expensive and can be riskier than other options.

Many consumers won’t be willing to listen to 60 seconds of commercials, so you’ll need to work hard to ensure you’re engaging your listeners.

Sixty-second ads are best for when you need to send a complex message.

If you need to explain something important, introduce a new brand or product that customers might not understand, or share important details like facts and figures, 60 seconds might be a good option.

The key to success with 60-second ads is ensuring every second is as intriguing as the next. Use emotive and powerful language to keep your customers listening.

Choosing the Best Ad Length

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing the best length for your radio ad. The right approach for you will depend on your target audience, budget, and what you have to say.

Ultimately, the best length for your radio commercial is the time it takes to send your message effectively and as quickly as possible. So keep it brief and simple, but make sure you’re not missing anything.

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