Advertisers Look At New Demos In Radio

Turn on the radio in any market around the U.S. and you will hear hundreds of stations that are targeting the same consumer. That is, an adult born between 1975 and 1948. The golden goose of radio has been the money demo of 25 to 54 year olds, which has to a large extent influenced which formats we hear. Although more advertising dollars are still spent in the 25-54 demographic than in any other, radio advertisers are increasingly looking for more targeted demos when making a buy.

Interep Research says 44.7% of last year’s national spot ad dollars went to the 25-54 demo, down almost 4% from 2000 when 48.5% was spent in the demo. In fact, radio stations in 17 of the top 25 metros saw money move out of the 25-54 cell. Interep’s Michelle Skettino says that continues the six-year decline for the big-money demo, noting that in 1995 it took 55.5% of the advertising pie.

“Advertisers are becoming more savvy in how they spend their money,” says Skettino, adding that planners and buyers are looking for something other than the big net. “25-54 is such a huge demo, that they’re looking at more discrete demographic cells.”

Where did it go? In some cases, radio stations have seen national ad dollars shift to stations that sell the younger 18-49 demo. In 2000, 17.5% of ad dollars went to such stations, but last year that figure jumped to 19.3%. This trend was most pronounced in the young-skewing markets of Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego. On the flipside, Cleveland, where the average age is 46, was still the most reliant on 25-54 buys.

However, facing an aging Baby Boomer population advertisers are also looking to extend their marketing efforts to older demos. Dollars allocated toward demos such as 35-64 and 35-plus were up a full percentage point in 2001, accounting for 9% of the national spot revenues in radio.

Yet, there still exists a gap between black listening and the amount of dollars that go to stations targeting African-Americans. According to Interep’s analysis, the only demos that took fewer national advertising dollars than black radio were those stations targeting the geriatric set (50-plus) and stations that declined to refine their demo beyond a broad “adult 18 to 54.”

In 2001, Interep estimates that just two of every $100 spent by national radio advertisers went to stations targeting African-American consumers. That was, however, a 20% increase over 2000. There were large variations, market-to-market, particularly in metros with a large black population. In Atlanta, 5.1% of the national ad dollars were bought against a black demo. In Baltimore that same demo took 4.5% of the available dollars. Compare that with metros such as Portland, Boston and Denver, where less than 0.5% went to black radio. The increased sales efforts of a joint sales venture between the ABC Radio Network and Radio One, the largest African-American radio group, was largely responsible for that growth.

Interep, a radio rep firm, looked at its spending the top 25 metros, excluding Puerto Rico and the embedded markets of Nassau-Suffolk, New York and San Jose. Although it only covered business written by Interep, Skettino says they split the market roughly in half with competing rep firm Katz Media – so she believes the figures can be extrapolated to analyze the radio industry as a whole.