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Traditional Advertising – Radio, Billboards, Bandit Signs. Do They Still Work?

The consumer landscape has radically changed over the last ten years and will continue to do so because mass markets are splintering into niche markets. Does this mean that traditional advertising channels are obsolete?

Along with the shift in practice comes a change in approach, as traditional marketing makes way for the new. Thus, we see the increased use of digital marketing strategies, such as social media marketing, pay-per-click, search engine optimization, and web analytics.

With that said, it would be a mistake for marketers to dismiss the value of old-school marketing. Promoting your products via traditional means such as radio, billboards, and bandit signs, among others, is still a powerful way to catch the attention of consumers.

This article focuses on how these traditional forms of marketing, when utilized properly, can help boost your brand awareness and increase your sales.

Radio advertising

Before television was introduced, people counted on the radio to bring entertainment, news, and information about products and services. It never lost its relevance through the years, which is why businesses still include radio in their marketing strategies.

Technology has vastly changed radio for the better. Aside from the traditional radio stations that continue to thrive today, there are also satellite and internet radio. Companies still use radio advertising because it is a more affordable form of advertising compared to television ads.

Advancements in technology have become a boon for radio advertising, making them compelling and engaging. Radio still captures around 243 million people, according to Nielsen Audio even with competition from other forms of marketing.

Advertisements on the radio are called spots, which companies buy to promote their products or services.

Three types of radio spots

  1. Live reads

Live reads usually occur during live events, wherein the hosts or commentators perform live reads expecting to reach more people. Brands also hire radio DJs with plenty of followers to read an advertisement.

  1. Onsite broadcasting events

Radio DJs are celebrities themselves and attract quite a huge following. This in turn brings in a large number of listeners to the radio stations. Often, these stations offer onsite events where they will invite advertisers to their site to talk about their business.

  1. Sponsorship

The third type of radio spot is sponsorship. Radio stations place commercials within a show. The host will announce to listeners that a certain brand is sponsoring specific traffic, weather, or sports segments. Sponsorships are used for branding purposes to increase the name recognition of a company.

  1. Traditionally produced spots

Traditionally produced spots are advertisements that use voice actors, a storyline, and a jingle.

Advertising on the radio usually costs much less than television and billboards. You can buy 200 to 300 radio spots for $1,000 – $2,000 a month depending on the station and market reach.  Radio stations have become more specialized and more ”niched” so they can offer the ability to reach a very targeted audience. 

Billboard advertising

Billboards utilize visual imagery and written words. Some argue that this is a more effective form of advertising because humans are hard-wired to look at colorful images and attractive designs.

Another advantage of using billboards for advertisers is that it is always visible 24/7. Billboard advertising targets commuters, so the copy must be brief but impactful.

Since producing billboards requires weeks of planning, it cannot offer timely messaging. Advertisers need to formulate a message that stands the test of time and will have the same impact after a few month’s time.

Benefits of billboard advertising

  1. High visibility

Billboard space owners always pick high-volume traffic areas, meaning there will always be eyeballs looking at your display. While people can opt not to click on an internet ad or switch to another radio station during a commercial, they cannot escape seeing your billboard each time they pass through a busy section of the road.

  1. Customized location

You can take your pick of the location you want because billboards are everywhere. As long as you choose the right billboard location for your business, you can easily reach a lot of your targeted customers.

  1. Builds brand awareness

Billboards are very useful for building brand awareness. A beautifully designed ad is a very powerful presentation, one that will leave a lasting impression on consumers.

  1. Targets different types of customers

Billboards let businesses reach different types of customers. It allows you to grab a large part of a niche in the general population. It also brings the consumers to you, so you do not have to spend extra money and effort trying to reach out to them.

  1. Always on

There is no switching off your billboard ad, and unlike TV and radio ads, it runs 24/7.

Bandit signs

Bandit sign advertising is also one of the old-school methods that businesses tend to neglect. It is rather unfortunate given how effective they can be in finding customers who may buy your products.

Bandit signs are commercial signs posted on a utility pole, street sign, or other street furniture; or any other sign placed within a public right of way or public property or on private property such that it is visible from a public street or another public area. 

Producing and placing bandit signs can be quite laborious though, so many companies hire someone who specializes in this arena and can do it for you.

One more issue about bandit signs is that most cities have strict regulations about placing bandit signs. If asked there may be instances where your company may be required to remove signs or relocate them.  


Radio ads, billboards, and bandit signs are still a great way to draw attention to your brand. Nevertheless, they should only form a part of your entire marketing strategy and are typically not used as a standalone medium to message consumers.

As consumer behavior and the marketing environment change, so do marketing methods. The top marketing strategy today is going digital, but that does not mean you should forget about traditional methods. A combination of both is often the best and most cost-efficient way to reach your customers.

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