Worries about the economy didn't hold radio back in the second quarter -- but growth wasn't exactly meteoric, either: total advertising revenues increased 1% from just under $4.54 billion to just over $4.58 billion, according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau.
The modest year-over-year increase was powered by growth in digital, which jumped 18% to $185 million; off-air, up 5% to $392 million; and network, up 3% to $282 million. However, the good news was tempered by weakness in spot advertising, long the mainstay of the radio business, which decreased 1% to $3.72 billion.
In terms of categories, growth was led by automotive, with total spending of $330 million; followed by network TV and cable providers, at $305 million. Additional contributions came from insurance companies, up 29% to $187 million; financial, up 11% to $296 million; and beverages, up 10% to $297 million.
At the same time, the absence of political advertising -- which boosted revenues in the lead-up to last year's hotly contested midterm elections -- also made for tougher year-over-year comparisons. Looking to the future, RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley was hopeful that big campaigns from P&G, AT&T and Coca-Cola would benefit radio in the second half of the year.
While the 1% increase is mildly positive news, it represents a moderation in the rate of growth from the first quarter, when revenues increased 3%. It's also worth noting that digital revenues, despite their impressive growth rate, remain less than 10% of total revenues.
The perilous financial state of some companies prompted some significant M&A activity in the first months of the third quarter, including the merger of Dial Global and Westwood One, following Westwood One's sale of its Metro Traffic Division (including Sigalert, acquired in January 2010) to Clear Channel Radio.