Digital Opportunities Grow For AM, FM


Radio stations “rapidly expanded” their digital offerings in 2017 to complement and help drive their over-the-air advertising packages, driving digital revenue 13.4% higher last year.

That’s according to research released Wednesday (2/7) by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and ad-tracking firm Borrell Associates.

The report shows that 85% of radio advertisers are also buying some form of digital advertising, and that three-quarters of them are buying digital and radio together. Moreover, the report shows that digital ad revenue now accounts for 7.5% of the average station’s ad revenues, up from 6.3% last year.

The findings are a part of the 6th annual RAB-Borrell report “Benchmarking Local Radio Stations’ Online Revenues.” The report analyzes online ad revenue from more than 10,000 radio stations, as well as survey responses from more than 1,300 local businesses that buy radio advertising.

Among the findings:
•    Digital revenue grew 13.4% in 2017, to a total of $700 million. The forecast for 2018 is even higher.
•    Over the past two years, the number of stations selling high-demand digital services such as SEO, website development, and social media management has doubled.
•    Radio advertisers’ top marketing goal is to acquire new business, and they rank Social Media and Radio as the Top 2 methods to achieve those goals.
•    Stations’ confidence in their digital strategy is improving.

“Digital has been integrated into all facets of broadcast radio’s offering both in programming and sales, and the results are definitely paying off,” said RAB President/CEO Erica Farber.  “As radio continues to provide integrated marketing solutions to its advertisers we expect to see continued growth. The RAB is focused on providing digital training and continued knowledge building for our members so they can better serve their clients.”

Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell added that radio “is definitely embracing digital as an opportunity to serve customers better, more so than in previous years. Stations are clearly offering a level of marketing expertise to their customers that makes the digital buy ‘safe’ and certainly stronger when combined with radio spots.”

The full report is available to RAB members on Click here.  


The data arrive as Borrell polled small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on their 2018 marketing plans. According to Mr. Borell, “They came up with a more realistic, front-line assessment.”

This is outlined in a new Borrell Associates report, “SMB Insights: What the Real Experts Predict for 2018,” that is now available.

SMBs offered insights on what they’ll spend in 2018, whether newspapers will survive, and what they thought of Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality marketing. “They had a lot to say about social media,” Borrell says. “Though nearly all are involved, most aren’t so sure it’s worth the investment.”