National Public Radio versus Pandora versus Sirius XM. Which one should you advertise on?

Sirius XM. Easily.

Many companies want to advertise to a national audience in a cost effective manner, and radio, particularly satellite radio, is an excellent way to do that. But why is satellite radio the best? In order to answer that question, we must explain the differences between the types of national radio networks.

Differences Between the Types of National Radio Networks

Radio has evolved a lot since the good old days. Today, national radio encompasses three types of networks: traditional broadcast, online, and satellite.

Traditional Broadcast Radio Networks

Traditional broadcast networks include National Public Radio (NPR) and CBS Radio News. Both of these networks include over 1,000 radio stations across the United States. You can target large markets (albeit mediocre audiences) by advertising on traditional broadcast networks, but the cost is, well, costly, and your advertisements won’t reach parts of America that aren’t close to a broadcast tower (i.e. rural markets).

Take NPR, for instance. If you spend $30,000 over several weeks, you’ll receive around 55 spots and reach a total audience of around 4.5 million. That’s about $550 per spot, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll reach a buying audience. Buying audiences are typically older and wealthier (think paying subscribers). Broadcast radio networks are free to the public after all.

Online Radio Networks

Online networks include Pandora and Spotify (although NPR and CBS can also be consumed online). Pandora has a listening audience of 52 million, an audience that has been declining since 2016. 6 million members of this audience are subscribers, which means they don’t see ads. Spotify has 65 million U.S. listeners, many of which are subscribed and also don’t see ads.

The greatest benefit of advertising on these online radio networks is the precise targeting they offer you. Spotify and Pandora allow you to target dozens of variables, including the obvious ones, like geography and age, but also less obvious ones, like education, intent (who’s looking to buy a car right now?), and more.

The downside is that you have to pay a pretty penny to target these variables, and there’s no realistic way to reach an online radio station’s total audience.

Online radio typically doesn’t charge you per spot. They charge you per one thousand impressions, (around $20 to $30 per thousand). It will cost you around three times as much money to advertise on Spotify as it will to advertise on, say, NPR, for example ($90,000 compared to NPR’s $30,000 to reach 4.5 million listeners… yeesh). However, this makes sense for advertisers who want to target specific variables and are willing to pay to do so.

Satellite Radio Networks

SiriusXM is the only satellite radio network. It has the largest North American audience at over 69 million people (including 34.5 million paying subscribers).

SiriusXM’s audience tends to skew older because they have discretionary income with which they subscribe to Sirius. As we established earlier, this means they are more likely to buy. They also tend to skew higher in education and business ownership as well.

The only downside with advertising on SiriusXM is that you won’t get the same targeting capabilities that you’ll receive by advertising on Spotify or Pandora (although SiriusXM owns Pandora now). When you advertise on SiriusXM, you select the channels you want to advertise on (CNN, Fox News, ESPN, etc.). This means that you can really only target by topic. However, you will reach a much larger audience.

For instance, if you spent $30,000 to advertise on SiriusXM, you’d likely receive the same number of ad spots as you would receive from NPR, but you’d reach an audience up to four times that of NPR: 16 million. Needless to say, that makes a huge difference.

Another upside with SiriusXM, similar to the online options, is that you’re not restricted by broadcast towers. If you have a rural audience, Sirius is an excellent way to advertise to that audience.

How to Advertise on National Radio Networks

You should know that reaching out to any of these national radio networks is extremely challenging. Trust us. We have plenty of experience dealing with SiriusXM and the like.

The best way to advertise on national radio is to reach out to a media buyer, like RSM Marketing, that already has established channels of communication. Otherwise, you will become frustrated by the amount of time and effort it takes to get the information you need.

We challenge you to locate the media kit or contact info for CBS Radio News. It’s basically impossible. They intentionally make it difficult for “retail advertisers,” most of which don’t have the investment required for results. If you’re serious about radio advertising, you’ll need to talk to a media agency that has proven history with these national radio advertising options.

If you just want to hit a large national radio audience as efficiently and effectively as possible, you should definitely try advertising on Sirius XM. It could be exactly what you need to scale your business. Reach out to RSM Marketing if you need help.

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