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advertising revenues were flat in 2013, according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau, but that doesn’t mean the industry was stagnant. Indeed, major changes are afoot, as
new revenue sources, like digital and off-air, increasingly supplant traditional mainstays -- especially spot advertising.
Total radio ad revenues for the fourth quarter came to $4.6
billion, while full-year revenues total $17.6 billion -- both unchanged from the year before. Spot advertising, long radio’s bread and butter, fell 3% in the fourth quarter to $3.63 billion and
1% for the full year, to $14 billion. Network radio was down 4% for the year, to $1.12 billion, although it registered a 7% increase in the fourth quarter, to $294 million.
attributed the decline in spot advertising partly to the absence of political advertising associated with the 2012 elections. The top five categories in 2013 were automotive, communications,
TV/networks/cable, restaurants and financial.
The full-year declines in spot and network ad revenues were offset by growth in digital and off-air revenues. Digital revenues increased
18% in the fourth quarter to $244 million, and 5% for the full year to $889 million. Meanwhile, off-air revenues increased 11% in the fourth quarter to $438 million, and 5% for the full year to $1.58
Local digital advertising in particular is on the upswing, according to a separate study by the RAB and Borrell Associates, based on a survey of radio broadcasters across the
U.S. and Canada.
Revenues from radio broadcasters’ local online advertising increased 13% in 2013 to $426 million, the study found, and are poised to jump 22% to $520 million in
However, digital ad revenues remain a fairly small part of the overall radio business. Crunching the numbers in the RAB revenue statement, digital contributed just 5.3% of total
ad revenues in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 5% for the full year.