More good news for the radio business: As projected, total radio ad revenues increased 5% from $4.24 billion in the third quarter of 2009 to $4.45 billion in the third quarter of this year, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau. For the first nine months of the year, total revenues are up about 6% to $12.7 billion.
The RAB attributed the third quarter of positive growth to increases across all the major categories. However, as in previous quarters, there were some pretty big disparities between categories, with national leading the way.
Local advertising revenue, long the mainstay of the radio business, increased a relatively modest 3% to $2.97 billion in the third quarter, while national jumped 10% to $700 million.
Network increased 4% to $263 million; digital revenues jumped 23% to $163 million -- meaning that Internet advertising still represents no more than 3.6% of the industry's bottom line. The Internet remains a very small part of the business, especially considering that total revenues are way down from a peak of $5.75 billion in the third quarter of 2006 (a 23% decline).
In percentage terms, the fastest-growing ad category in the third quarter was department and discount stores -- up 34% to $189 million, according to the RAB, followed by financial services, up 32% to $336 million; professional services, up 25% to $71 million; and automotive, up 19% to $366 million.
In dollar terms, the biggest category was communications and cellular, which increased 10% to $381 million in the third quarter.