Nielsen: Radio Key To Reaching African-Americans

A recent analysis of ad spending by Nielsen Monitor-Plus shows that advertisers use radio more than any other medium to reach African-American audiences. From October 2006-September 2007, they spent about $805 million on African-American radio formats, representing roughly 35% of a total $2.3 billion spent targeting the demographic.

To prepare this analysis, Nielsen tracked spending by 22,000 advertisers--local, regional, and national--in over 130 media outlets. These included local radio, national magazine, national cable TV, network TV, and syndication TV.

The radio budget came in ahead of national magazines like Essence, Ebony and its sibling publication Jet, which altogether attracted roughly $600 million, and national cable TV, a close third with $593.1 million. However, the cable figure is growing fast--up 14.5% from the previous year. Nielsen attributed the rise to the growth of BET and shows targeting African-Americans on other cable channels. Network TV lagged behind, attracting $193.3 million (roughly 8% of the total).



According to Nielsen, Procter & Gamble had by far the largest ad budget targeting African-Americans of any company--almost $90 million. That's nearly three times other big spenders--including McDonald's, at $37.3 million, and Johnson & Johnson, at $36.1 million.

In terms of category, however, automobiles led the way with a total $187.4 million. Here, GM came out on top with $35.8 million, followed by Chrysler at $28.2 million, Ford at $25.9 million, Nissan at $22.1 million, and Toyota at $21.7 million.

The Nielsen analysis gives a boost to radio stations targeting African-American audiences at a time when many station managers say their future is in jeopardy. In particular, they fear that new electronic measurement of audiences by Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) will undermine their ad revenues--unfairly, they claim.

In Houston, Philadelphia and New York, many stations targeting African-Americans and Hispanics saw major decreases in their audience numbers with the rollout of PPM ratings, not yet commercialized in New York. The problem, according to a number of radio executives, is Arbitron's failure to meet its target sample sizes in all three markets, particularly among African-Americans.

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