Seems Q4 was just as bad across the pond, according to MediaWeek UK: “National advertisers’ spend on radio plummeted by more than a fifth year on year in the last three months of 2008, with total spend across all advertisers down 6.3% across 2008. According to official radio industry revenue figures, national advertisers’ radio spend fell 21.2% year on year in Q4 2008. Total radio spend in 2008 was £560.2m.
Overall, including sponsorship and promotions and local advertising, radio ad revenue in Q4 fell 14.5% year on year, totaling £129m in the quarter.
Meanwhile, local advertisers’ radio spend dropped 9.8% in Q4 to £36.2m. Sponsorship and promotions declined in Q4, by 1.1%, totaling £27.1m in Q4 2008. Across the whole year, national advertisers reduced spend by 9.6%, to £304.8m. Spend from local advertisers declined 6.1% over 2008, to £149.6m.
Stuart Taylor, chief executive of Guardian Media Group Radio, said continued program investment was key to the radio industry’s hopes of recovery. He added: "We need to boost the premium on ideas, especially in the current climate. Sponsorship and promotion is up overall and that demonstrates the value clients put on new ideas. These figures can’t paint the whole view as it’s a mixed picture across the board."
Taylor refuted the idea that radio was becoming less important to clients in the current climate, adding: "It’s cost effective and very flexible. Clients are looking for those qualities in media more than usual. The model isn’t broken – the increase of sponsorship and promotion proves that and listeners are increasing."
Simon Redican, managing director of the UK Radio Advertising Bureau, said: "Q4 was tough, but it’s tough for everyone. However, the good news is we aren’t seeing revenue decreases quarter on quarter. The outlook for spring is relatively strong."
RBR/TVBR observation: So while the bad news was similar for Q4 in Britain, the good news seems to be around the corner there. The same may well be true in your market. With warmer weather comes more promotional opportunities. Keep that in mind as the time to start brainstorming promotions is now. Retailers are chomping at the bit right now for good ideas to move product. Remember, radio is local and stations have much more control over ad dollars. If you are part of a large group, start putting in those promotional dollar requests soon as well, as the process takes time.