Radio Loses Alcohol Ad Dollars, But Youth Still Hear

Radio saw spending by alcohol advertisers decrease 38% between 2001 and 2006, according to an analysis released Monday by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University. But the CAMY report was quick to note that one-third of radio ads for alcohol are still reaching the wrong audience: underage youth.

Overall spending by alcohol advertisers fell from $138.2 million in 2001 to just $86.2 million in 2006. A separate CAMY study found that alcohol ad spending in magazines fell 20% between 2001 and 2005, suggesting parallel trends in these two "traditional" media.

The main beneficiary of these migrating ad dollars is TV, according to a third CAMY report, with total spending on TV alcohol advertising rising from $824 million in 2001 to $1.082 billion in 2005.

Despite the decrease in total ad budgets, one-third of alcohol ads on the radio are still more likely to be heard by underage youth than adults, on a per-capita basis. CAMY noted that one out of 12 radio ads for alcohol appear during radio shows, with a youth audience comprising more than 30% of the total--although beer and distilled spirits companies pledged in 2003 they would no longer place ads in these shows.



Ironically, the CAMY scolding actually conceals some good news for radio.

David Jernigan, the executive director of the organization, noted: "The assumption that iPods and the Internet have displaced radio as a primary source of entertainment for young people is wrong." He says those 12 to 17 are the "most likely group to be listening from 7 p.m. to midnight." That's why alcohol ads are heard by so many teens.

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