The latest earnings statement from Emmis Communications heralds another bad quarter for radio as it moves into the critical fourth-quarter holiday season.
The disappointing ad revenue results from Emmis Radio are especially significant for both the company and the industry at large because the comparisons with the third quarter of 2008 were relatively easy.
Total revenues at Emmis Radio fell 26.5%, from $72.7 million in the third quarter of 2008 to $53.4 million in the third quarter of 2009. This contributed to an overall revenue decline of 27.4%, from $92.7 million to $68 million. Revenues also 30.5% fell at Emmis' publishing division, from $21 million to $14.5 million.
While the recession obviously played a role in the decline in radio revenues, Emmis executives admitted that the radio business in general is also suffering from long-term trends, including the rise of online media and an erosion of advertiser confidence. That's partly due to impatience with what is perceived as slow progress on the adoption of new, more accurate measurement technologies.
Also last week, Emmis Radio announced a partnership with Brand Affinity Technologies that will give Emmis advertisers access to more than 3,000 celebrity endorsers. BAT cited the deal as a demonstration of the value of its streamlined celebrity brand endorsement process, which allows advertisers to tap well-known figures from entertainment, sports and other areas for contextually relevant endorsements. The campaigns target national, regional, or local levels.
The deal follows a test phase in which several local Emmis advertisers used the BAT system, which includes research to determine which celebrities and endorsement strategies are most appropriate in a given locale.