U.S. Radio Industry Grows Annual Advertising Revenue 1 Percent to $17.4 Billion

Radio Advertising Bureau Logo - H 2012

Radio Advertising Bureau Logo - H 2012

Radio expects to capture seven percent of the estimated $5.6 billion that will be spent on political advertising across all media in 2012.

The U.S. radio industry took in $17.4 billion in advertising in 2011, up one percent from the year earlier and the second year in a row that it grew.

Digital revenue grew most, up 15 percent to $709 million, followed by revenue generated by off-air events, which grew seven percent to $1.5 billion. Network revenue grew three percent to $1.1 billion while radio's biggest contributor, spot advertising, was the only category to fall -- dropping percent to $14.1 billion.

The figures come from a report released Friday by the Radio Advertising Bureau, which acknowledges that the $17.4 billion total revenue figure might actually be underestimated due to the absence of some data related to political expenditures.

In regard to politics, the report had access to only 35 markets, so the figure it used was $18.4 million. A spokesman at the RAB, though, estimates that about $200 million was actually collected by radio stations for political ads in 2011.

The spokesman also said that an estimated $5.6 billion will be spent on political advertising across all media in 2012 as President Barack Obama seeks a second term in office, and radio should capture about seven percent of it.

The biggest advertising category in 2011 was, as per usual, automotive, which accounted for $2 billion in revenue. Second was the television industry, which contributed $1.4 billion, up six percent from a year earlier.

Fox, CBS and ABC were the top three TV network advertisers at $46 million, $22 million and $16 million, respectively. ESPN bought $14.3 million worth of radio ads last year, which was almost six times more than it purchased the year prior.

The biggest brands to advertise on U.S. radio in 2011 were AT&T, McDonald's and Comcast.