Signs of Light: RAB Reports Slight Growth

At least one advertising medium is up over last year. New data from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) shows that March 2002 ad sales beat last March by 1%. At a time when print, network TV and newspapers continue to report a slump in revenue, any growth is a welcome sign of a possible ad turnaround.

On a year-to-date basis, national radio sales figures also rose 1% compared to the first three months of 2001. Local sales figures for 1st Quarter, 2002 showed a drop of 1% and the combined total for 1st Quarter also fell by 1%. To put the growth prospects of the radio industry into perspective, the RAB introduced a Sales Index that equates base year 1998 to 100. The Index works similar to the Consumer Price Index so that information can be monitored on a monthly basis.

The local sales index for March, 2002 was 128.1; the national sales index was 127.8; and the combined total was 128.0. On a year-to-date basis, the local sales index was 129.6; the national index was 130.2; and the combined total was 129.8.

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According to a recently released report from Arbitron, national radio was on a revenue tear through the late 90s. Its 1999 growth rate was 13.5%, followed by 11.2 percent in 2000. The rate fell to .9% last year.

According to Gary Fries, president and CEO of RAB, “History has shown that Radio is the most resilient of all advertising media and the first medium to post positive growth following a downturn. Radio’s cross-section of advertising categories makes it less vulnerable to unexpected fallouts from one or two advertising sectors. Radio is positioned for steady recovery as we approach the end of 2nd Quarter and move into 3rd Quarter.”

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