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March 13, 2019

Radio’s Digital Sales on the Rise RAB/Borrell study shows the radio industry is embracing digital and loving the results


Gordon Borrell has seen a lot of changes in radio over the past seven years, and he’s pleasantly surprised. Not that long ago, he was reporting that the industry was slow to embrace digital media. “Then, all of a sud-

den, they did! I wouldn’t say it was a smart move, but actually very lucky. The internet first threatened print media more than broadcast, so radio has had time to observe, learn, adapt and now make the right moves.” And radio is moving into digital. The Borrell Associates CEO recently released the seventh annual Benchmarking Report for the Radio Advertising Bureau. The survey of radio buyers and managers about ad expenditures revealed that local stations generated $804 million in digital ad revenue last year, up 15 percent since 2017. There is probably no one happier about this than RAB President Erica Farber. “There was a time when, if an ad buyer told their radio rep that they’re spending more on digital ads, the

IF YOU GO What: 2019 NAB show Who: “Media, entertainment and technology professionals looking for new and innovative ways to create, manage, deliver and monetize content on any platform.” Where: Las Vegas Convention Center When: April 6–11 How:

Copyright Borrell 2018

How Much: A variety of registration options are offered, including a Conference Flex Pass for $855 and a free exhibits pass with exhibitor code.

The portion of U.S. radio revenue attributable to digital ads continues to grow, as shown in this chart from Borrell Associates.

reaction was, ‘Oh well, we’re losing our money.’ Now, radio has a strong story to tell about digital,” Farber says. According to the report, the average radio station brought in about $256,000 in digital revenue in 2018, and the average market cluster $1.15 million. Digital revenue represented 8.8 percent of total ad revenue and is forecast to reach 10.7 percent in 2019. The top performing station groups are generating three to five times the average digital revenue for their markets. While bigger radio companies with stations in major markets had the means to invest in digital earlier, much of the new growth is now in smaller and medium markets. Borrell cites the stations owned by Mid-West Family Broadcasting as an example. “They’re all on board with a positive attitude about digital,” Borrell says. “They’re dyed-in-the-wool radio people, and you might think they’d pay lip service, then hit some obstacles, and go back to just selling radio. (continued on page 22)

Profile for Future PLC

Radio World 1134 - March 13, 2019  

Radio World 1134 - March 13, 2019 issue

Radio World 1134 - March 13, 2019  

Radio World 1134 - March 13, 2019 issue