Radio keeps streak alive with Q1 revenue gain


RAB / Radio Advertising BureauThe number the RAB is reporting to measure radio’s Q1 revenue performance isn’t a big one, but it has a plus in front of it rather than a minus, and gets to be written in black ink. And the 1% gain represents a third straight Q1 gain.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau and Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co., the radio industry brought in $3.814B this quarter. That is a 1% gain over 2011, when it scored $3.783B. It also beats the $3.687B earned in Q1 2010 and the $3.430B earned in Q1 2009.

Here’s how Q1 results broke down:
$3.047B Spot (flat)
$282M Network (+8%)
$165M Digital (+10%)
$320M Off-air (+3%)
$3.184B Grand Total (+1%)

RAB’s Erica Farber commented, “Q1 2012 results confirm that Radio commands a solid position in brands’ total marketing plans. While advertisers continue to capitalize on Radio’s Spot and Network efficiencies, they’re increasingly utilizing local digital capabilities and audience engagement that this medium affords.”

Automotive was radio top category overall, and it brought in more cash than during Q1 2011, but the increase was but a modest 1% to $352.9M. The biggest gain came from home furnishings/floor coverings, up 30% to $113.6M, making it the #4 category for radio during the quarter.

#2 was grocery/convenience, up 11% to $192.5M; #3 was casinos/lottery, up 7% to $122.5M; and #5 was department/discount stores/shopping centers, up 1% to $75M.

Comcast/Xfinity was radio’s best customer for the quarter. The top ten included:
1. Comcast Xfinity Cable – $89.7M
2. McDonald’s – $87.6M
3. Safeway – $59.3M
4. Verizon Wireless – $48.5M
5. GEICO – $46M
6. AT&T – $45.5M
7. T-Mobile – $42.2M
8. Toyota Dealer Association – $41.7M
9. Fox TV Network – $39.6M
10. Honda Dealer Association – $32M

RAB provided some color on automotive. The good news is that Japanese brands are back after the massive turmoil they endured after last year’s earthquake/tsunami disaster. Toyota was up 10% in the quarter to $41.7M, and Honda was up a blistering 64% to $32M.

Results from Chrysler were mixed – corporate decreased spending 22% to $21.8M, but dealers almost picked up the slack with a 39% increase to $17.6M.

Political isn’t there yet for radio – it accounted for only $6.9M. 55% came from PACs, led by one supporting Newt Gingrich ($724K) and trailed by another supporting Mitt Romney ($538K).

RBR-TVBR observation: Gains are good, and we’ve heard the gains may pick up as 2012 continues. High demand in the political category later this year should give radio a nice spillover bonus both from political organizations and displaced traditional advertisers.