Radio’s Digital Ad Revenue Breaks $1 Billion

Radio’s digital ad revenue blasted through the billion-dollar plateau for the first time, now accounting for 10% of total advertising revenue for the industry, according to research released today by the Radio Advertising Bureau and ad-tracking firm Borrell Associates.

Radio stations grew revenues 25% in 2019 and are forecast to see growth of 29% this year, the report says. Digital revenue is now growing faster for the radio industry than it is for any other media segment that is also selling digital advertising.

“As radio continues to gain renewed interest by advertisers and the media buying community, they are recognizing radio’s assets beyond broadcast,” stated Erica Farber, RAB president and CEO. “This report underscores the importance of being a well-trained and knowledgeable radio professional and the RAB continues to deliver the digital training and professional development required for radio sellers to best serve their clients.”

“The radio industry is carving out large chunks of the digital advertising pie from other print and broadcast competitors who also sell digital marketing to local businesses,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. “Our latest survey of radio managers shows that they have stronger and more positive attitudes toward digital media.  That’s a very good thing, because our survey of ad buyers also shows that radio’s most at-risk customers are the ones who aren’t being offered a digital package by their sales reps.”

The annual report showed that the average station made $299,213 in digital revenue in 2019, and the average market cluster $1.3 million. The average revenue for the top 5 performers ranged from $664,651 for top performing clusters in the smallest of markets to $17.1 million in the largest.

The findings are a part of the RAB and Borrell’s 8th annual report, “Digital Sales Skyrocket, Hitting $1 Billion.” It is being released today to RAB members. It analyzes online ad revenue from 3,488 radio stations, as well as survey responses from 1,006 local radio buyers and a survey of 208 radio managers.


Among the findings:

  • 47% of radio buyers are planning to buy a new form of marketing; they are 66% more likely to be planning to purchase a new type of digital marketing.
  • Radio buyers who were not offered a digital package by their sales rep were 26% more likely to be thinking about cutting radio.
  • 70% of stations are selling digital services, up from 62% last year; those that do reported the highest revenue growth.
  • 78% of station managers felt positive about their digital strategy, up from 72% last year.
  • The percentage of stations that produce podcasts (73%) remains steady, but stations are cutting back on the frequency and half still don’t sell advertising on their podcasts.

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