Fueled by political advertising, radio ended the fourth quarter of 2012 on a high note, with revenue increasing 4% to $4.35 billion versus the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.
For the full year, total radio ad revenues increased 1% to $16.48 billion, marking the third consecutive year of growth.
Spot ad revenues -- long the mainstay of the radio business -- increased 4% to $3.75 billion in the fourth quarter, while digital jumped 11% to $206 million. Off-air revenues, which include experiential marketing, were down 1% to $393 million. For the full year, spot revenues were up 1% to $14.2 billion, digital was up 8% to $767 million, and off-air was up 1% to $1.5 billion.
The RAB did not provide network radio ad revenues. The source of the data, Miller Kaplan Arase, was not able to collect revenue reports from companies representing at least the minimum required: 90% of total marketplace revenues. This is the second quarter in a row without network revenue figures.
In terms of categories, aside from political advertising, fourth-quarter growth was led by professional services, up 17%; communications, up 15%; financial services, up 15%; home furnishings, up 14%; and concerts and movies, up 9%.
It’s worth noting that digital radio revenues -- while growing -- still remain a relatively small part of the overall business, representing just 4.7% of total radio ad revenues in the fourth quarter and 2012 overall.