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RAB-US-Radio-Revs-in-2013-Mar2014Radio continues to enjoy wide reach among Americans, and ad spending on the medium isn’t dropping off, according to the latest revenue report [pdf] from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). The RAB reveals that ad spending in Q4 and for 2013 overall stayed flat from the respective year-earlier periods, a solid result given 2012’s influx of political spending. Not surprisingly, digital was the fastest-growing segment, up 16% for the year and offsetting spot’s 1% decline. Digital’s surge is expected to continue, particularly as more Americans listen to online radio for greater lengths of time.

The only other radio segment to show growth in revenues in 2013 was off-air, up by 5% year-over-year and buoyed by an 11% hike in Q4. While network revenues grew by 7% in Q4, they were off by 4% for the year as a whole. The opposite was true for spot revenues, which dropped off more in Q4 (-3%) than in 2013 overall (-1%).

The final tally for radio revenues was $4.6 billion in Q4 and $17.65 billion for the year. That latter figure is in line with PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates, which put radio as the 4th-largest advertising medium in the US, behind TV, the internet and newspapers.

Top-Spending Categories

The top 5 categories by radio spend have remained largely consistent for the past 5 years, led by automotive, which accounted for 29% share of spending by the top 5 last year. The communications category was next (22% share of top-5 category spending), followed by TV/Networks/Cable (17%), restaurants (16%) and financial (16%).

The following is a quick breakdown of highlights from each of those categories.

  • Automotive

Automotive spending on radio dropped by 1% year-over-year in Q4 and finished the year down 3%. The top spender in the category was Toyota Dealer Association, outspending the second-largest spender, Ford Dealer Association, by 26% during the year.

  • Communications

Communications companies invested heavily in radio in 2013, upping spending by 18% over 2012 as wireless carriers engaged in a type of radio advertising arms race. In fact, this category includes 4 of the 10 largest spenders on radio, led by AT&T, which increased its outlays by an impressive 63% for the full-year period. T-Mobile and Spring also hiked their expenditures by 29% and 91%, respectively.

  • TV/Networks/Cable

Unlike the communications category, this one had a sizable decline in spending of 8% for both Q4 and the full year. However the category’s leading spender, Comcast Xfinity Cable Service, increased its full-year investment in the medium by 5% over 2012. In fact, Comcast spent more than the next 6 advertisers in the category, combined.

Among broadcast networks, ABC-TV (+28%) and CW (+26%) saw fit to spend more on radio, while Fox (-7%), CBS-TV (-12%) and NBC (-49%) pulled back.

  • Restaurants

Restaurant advertisers reined in their spot radio spending by 16% in Q4, leading to a 10% decline for the year. Despite its expenditures dropping by 5% for the year, McDonald’s remained the clear spending leader in the category, ahead of Subway, which cut spending by 10%.

  • Financial

Financial services advertisers tightened their purse strings to a considerable degree in Q4, with spending down 31% from the year-earlier period despite sizable increases from Capital One (+211%), MasterCard (+112%) and American Express (+64%).

For the year, spending was off by a more modest 9%. JPMorgan Chase increased outlays by 5% for the year, taking the top spot in the category, moving up from the 3rd spot in 2012.

Top 10 Spenders

The list of top spenders in 2013 contains companies from 7 separate categories, which the RAB says is a reminder of “radio’s utility to advertisers of all products and services.” For the most part, both the Q4 list and full-year lists are the same, with the top 6 spenders consistent and 8 of the top 10 on each lists.

The top 10 spenders in 2013, in descending order of spending, were:

  • AT&T
  • Comcast/Xfinity Cable
  • McDonald’s
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon Wireless
  • GEICO
  • Safeway
  • Toyota Dealer Association
  • Sprint
  • PepsiCo

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