Radio Slipped in 2014, Digital Growth Slowed

Total advertising revenues for the radio industry fell 1% from $17.6 billion in 2013 to $17.5 billion in 2014, according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau.

On a quarter-by-quarter basis, revenues were flat in the first quarter of 2014, at $3.8 billion; down 3% to $4.5 billion in the second quarter; down 2% to $4.6 billion in the third quarter; and flat again at $4.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

By advertising category, in the fourth-quarter spot revenues were down 2% to $3.57 billion, network fell 7% to $274 million, digital was up 4% to $253 million, and off-air revenues jumped 18% to $519 million.

For the full year, spot was down 3% to $13.63 billion, network sank 4% to $1.07 billion, digital grew 9% to $973 million, and off-air soared 16% to $1.83 billion.



Among advertiser categories, auto dealers and manufacturers led the way in terms of total dollars spent, followed by communications and cellular companies in the No. 2 spot, then financial services, health care, professional services, restaurants, TV and cable providers, insurance companies, grocery and convenience stores, and finally education in 10th place.

Turning to specific advertisers, AT&T was the top spender in 2014, followed by Comcast, T-Mobile, McDonald’s, Verizon Wireless, Geico, MetroPCS, the Toyota Dealer Association, Safeway, and PepsiCo.

Total political media buying for radio came to almost $400 million.

While digital advertising continues to be a bright spot for the radio business, it’s worth noting that the rate of growth in digital revenues is slowing: after adding $122 million in 2013, digital added just $89 million in 2014. In proportional terms, digital ad revenues contributed 5.5% of radio’s total ad revenues in 2014, a modest increase from 5% in 2013.

Digital’s slowing growth rate is especially concerning in light of the continuing decline in radio’s core spot ad revenues.

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