Radio to Win 6.6% of Political Ad Dollars in 2018

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you’re selling radio, you need to know which segments are likely to grow this year. Analysts are predicting that you'll do best by focusing on automotive, food service and the political operators in your market. Here are the details.

According to an Inside Radio report, auto dealers continue to account for the biggest share of radio station ad revenue. While the automotive sector has been red-​hot during the past few years, sales are beginning to slow. Dealers won’t want to give up easily on sales, so they’ll likely boost advertising to keep the attention of vehicle buyers. Radio is a medium that can entice listeners to stop into the local dealership for a test drive.

People have to eat every day, whether it’s at a QSR or the salad bar at the local supermarket. A significant percentage of people also listen to the radio during working hours. That happy coincidence means local restaurants and grocery stores should be promoting new entrees and lunch-​time discounts to hungry radio listeners. In 2017, the QSR category was fifth on the list of ad revenue-​generating businesses for radio media sellers.

And then, there’s politics. Radio stations don’t have the political ad pie all to themselves as this chart from Borrell Associates shows:

  • Newspaper 6.5%
  • Other print 1.2%
  • Broadcast TV 39.5%
  • Cable TV 11.7%
  • Radio 6.6%
  • Out of home 3.7%
  • Direct mail 2.9%
  • Online/​digital 2.1%
  • Telemarketing 5.7%

However, there's plenty of spending to capture. Compared to the past mid-​term election cycle, political clients will boost ad buying by 2.5%, from $8.3 billion to $8.5 billion. Radio stations stand to earn approximately $564 million this year. You may be accustomed to talking with the local political party heads to sell your ad space. Given the changes in political coffers, it’s time to spread your wings. Borrell analysts believe that “more than half of the PAC spending is local or below state level.” Acquaint yourself with the key issues being discussed in your market and go after the people who control the money.

Talk with all your clients about the reliability of traditional radio. Assure them of the quality of your content. When they advertise with you, they’ll reach their target markets, and they won’t have to worry whether their messages will show up next to objectionable content.