Radio Reach: Wide And Focused

According to a new analysis and release by the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio boasts the broadest mass reach among all media while simultaneously affording narrow targeting capabilities through numerous program formats and networks.

These attributes combine to make broadcast radio the most efficient, effective vehicle for advertising, and radio's consumer reach through broadcast is increasingly being enhanced by stations' ability to provide additional reach through both digital platforms and ‘Off-Air,' (non-traditional extensions) like events, sponsorships and ticket sales, says the report.

2015 represented milestones for radio's Digital and Off-Air sectors: Revenue derived from radio's important digital platforms topped $1B for the first time, and off-air sales grew 11% over last year's strong performance to exceed the $2B mark. Combined, Digital and Off-Air sectors comprise nearly 1/5 of radio's total bottom line for the full year 2015.

Erica Farber, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, says "… advertisers are extending the reach of broadcast radio… taking advantage of radio's off-air and digital options… using… digital and off-air platforms… (as) consumers are enjoying experiential events… “

Other Non-Spot highlights for 2015 include:

  • Off-Air sales now represent nearly 12% of total revenue.
  • Network's strong second half (up 3%) helped boost full year by 1%.

 The Top 5 advertiser categories of 2014 held steady in rank positions through 2015, with four adding additional dollars to radio. Leading category Auto Dealers/Dealer Groups/Manufacturers' spending was flat but represented twice as many dollars in total as #2 Communications/Cellular.

Radio’s Top 5 Categories; Spot Radio


FY 2015


% Change vs. 2014


Auto Dealers/Groups/Manufacturers



Communications/Cellular/Public Utilities



Financial Services



Health Care



Professional Services



Source: Miller Kaplan Arase LLP, March 2016

Auto Dealers/Dealer Groups/Manufacturers
Auto Dealers/Dealer Groups/Manufacturers held their course on Spot Radio, pulling in as the top category among all advertisers based on virtually no change in spending versus full year 2014 (+0.4%). Honda Dealer Association upped Spot by 15% to take the #1 position in the category for 2015.

Heavy Spot volume allowed Communications/Cellular to retain its #2 category ranking in 2015 even though it was the only Top 5 category to register a decrease (-5%) versus prior year comps. This category's current significance to radio is clear: Three of radio's Top 5 individual advertisers in 2015 are Communications/Cellular accounts, including T-Mobile (#1), AT&T (#3), and Sprint (#5).

Financial Services
Spot expenditures in radio's third-ranked category grew 4% over 2014, in which it also ranked #3. However, within the category ranks, there's a major shift: CashCall mortgage lenders increased their commitment by 120% and vaulted to the #1 ranking held last year by JPMorgan Chase, now #4 off a 60% cutback.

Health Care
By the end of 2015, this fourth-ranked category increased total spending 5% versus full year 2014. With regional clinics and hospitals injecting more Spot ad dollars, various regional medical service industries dominate the top ranks: Within the top five, regional category advertiser Dignity Health Care System boosted their spending 128% versus year ago comps. Immediately following, at #3, is NuMale Medical Center – up 65%.

Professional Services
Posting the greatest Spot gain among the top five ad categories, Professional Services ended the 12-month period up 9%. LifeLock (ranked #2) was up six-fold - a significant gain in rank position compared to the First-Half (#12).

Total Revenue
Time-tested radio held its own again in 2015, ending the year flat (-1%) versus 2014 comps.

Revenue Comparisons (2015 vs. 2014; $Millions)


$ FY 2015

% Change
















Source: Miller Kaplan Arase LLP, March 2016

Erica Farber, President & CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau, concludes that “… advertisers' commitment to radio remains consistent… they find money to try out shiny new vehicles… but they continue to rely on radio's core ability to reach huge numbers of consumers… “


1 comment about "Radio Reach: Wide And Focused".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 18, 2016 at 9:13 a.m.

    Hopefully the RAB and other interested parties will start to conduct research demonstrating that radio commercials are able to create ad awareness and get consumers to buy products. So far we have seen a bit of this via Nielsen Catalina but mainly for impulse buying items. What about more studies for a representative sample of advertised products and ---PLEASE---with comparisons against the same brands performance using TV. As for the endless repetition, "We've got reach, we've got reach, etc", this isn't getting radio anywhere. TV's got reach and so do magazines. So what? And TV as well as magazines can target selective audiences. Radio has no monopoly on that. The real concern of many advertisers is about the effectiveness of audio-only commercials relative to TV commercials. Why not address that?

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