Radio suffers a flat Q3, up marginally YTD


RAB / Radio Advertising BureauIt will come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention to quarterly revenue results for radio groups – RAB confirms that the industry was treading water Q3, with what scant gains there were coming from digital.

Spot and off-air revenue came in flat for the quarter, while digital scored a gain of 8%. However, digital’s low not-quite-5% share of total quarterly revenue prevented it from pushing radio’s total results out of the flat zone.

YTD, digital is the leader with a 7% gain, and off-air is up a couple of points, enough to take flat spot revenue up to a 1% overall gain.

Here’s what it looks like in chart form:

Revenue $Q3’12 %Chg $YTD %Chg
Spot 3,648 Flat 10,455 Flat
Digital 205 8% 561 7%
Off-Air 388 Flat 1,117 2%
Total 4,241 Flat 12,133 1%
Source: RAB, Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.

“While on-air advertising represents the core of Radio’s revenue stream, it’s most encouraging that advertisers are taking advantage of expanding digital opportunities offered by stations,” stated Erica Farber, RAB President and CEO.  “More marketers are tapping into the multi-platform aspects of Radio to reach our active and highly engaged audiences.  These expanding platforms afford Radio broadcasters additional avenues to bolster Radio’s growth.”

Automotive, grocery, clothing and big box retail were growth areas for radio, and political was up by a factor of six despite widespread complaints that it fell far short of the radio business’s expectations going into the election year. Down categories included communications/cellular, finance, insurance and restaurants.

Farber said radio’s results were tied to the overall business climate. “Radio’s Q3 and year to date results reflect the American economic picture,” Farber said. “Categories that are rebounding based on renewed consumer confidence have made Radio a greater part of their marketing plans.”

RAB listed radio’s best growth advertising categories
* Health Care +26%
* Auto Dealers/Dealer Groups/Manufacturers + 7%
* Department/Discount Stores/Shopping Centers + 7%
* Television/Networks/Cable Providers + 3%
* Beverages + 3%
* Grocery/Convenience/Liquor Stores + 1%
* Casinos/Lottery + 1%

And its top ten advertisers by volume:
1. Comcast Xfinity Cable Service
2. McDonald’s
3. AT&T
4. T-Mobile
5. Verizon Wireless
6. GEICO Insurance
7. Toyota Dealer Association
8. PepsiCo
9. Safeway
10. Walmart

RBR-TVBR observation: On the plus side, radio is not going backwards. At the same time, it is setting itself up with some more easy comps in 2013 – at some point, the industry should get hot and blow the doors of some of these revenue totals.

A key going forward is to do a better job selling the medium to political advertisers. The advantages radio offers are obvious, so what is needed is a campaign to educate the political operatives who make advertising choices. 2013 is on off year, and will feature but a handful of contests – they will be good for experiments. But radio should already be gearing to do a better job of selling itself for the 2014 midterms.