Internet Radio Audience to Grow 6% in 2015

The radio industry will crack the half-​billion-​dollar mark in digital advertising in 2015 for the first time, growing revenue 18%, according to research issued by Borrell Associates for the Radio Advertising Bureau. The report, Benchmarking: Local RADIO STATIONS‰Ûª Online Revenues, shows that radio stations added or reassigned as many as 750 new employees to focus on digital ventures last year, causing revenues to grow 16% in 2014.

eMarketer sees the audience for online radio growing from 160 million in 2014 to 192 million in 2019, and radio stations are preparing to capture this audience.

More than 1/​3 of the radio managers surveyed indicated that they had at least one employee exclusively assigned to digital operations, up from 11% last year.åÊ Also, over 33% of those surveyed said their stations were either: setting up a ‰ÛÏdigital agency,‰Û planning to set one up soon, or already had one, Borrell reported.

The 3rd annual report is based on Borrell's ongoing industry-​wide survey of more than 10,000 local online operations in the U.S. and Canada, including 2,996 radio stations in over 700 market clusters. Data from three principal sources was analyzed: digital ad revenue as reported by the stations, digital ad spending by local business, and a survey of 211 radio personnel with questions about digital revenue resources, sales methods, expenses and other digital operations.

Along with revenue benchmarking, the report offers insights into what radio managers are thinking with regard to their digital operations.

Among the findings:

‰Û¢åÊNearly 2/3's believe their sales reps are talking to the wrong buyers when trying to sell digital

‰Û¢åÊ77% gave sales training a No. 1 or No. 2 priority in terms of what would boost their station digital sales the most

"The radio industry is starting to develop some significant digital assets," said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. "The amount of digital staffers added in the past year, plus the continued strong belief by two-​thirds of the managers that digital media holds ‰Û÷significant opportunity,‰Ûª is very encouraging."

Overall, radio sellers closed $494 million in digital advertising last year, up 16% from 2013, according to the report. For 2015, Borrell expects 18% growth, to $583 million. Radio managers are continuing to see great potential in the digital space and are focused on sales training to unlock it ‰ÛÒ 96% of them indicate that their sales teams could use more training on selling digital.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs important to look at all available revenue data in order to provide our industry members with additional market barometers,‰Û said Erica Farber, President and CEO, RAB. ‰ÛÏWe‰Ûªre making tremendous strides in Radio‰Ûªs digital growth; and this survey continues to provide us with areas to focus on and invest in to truly maximize this revenue stream.‰Û

Farber also noted, ‰ÛÏIts evident sales managers are looking for ongoing training for their sales staffs and a better understanding of the digital advertising marketplace.åÊ The RAB is poised to help in this area through our professional development programs and business development efforts.‰Û

According to AudienceSCAN, 10.4% of adults listen to local and/​or out-​of-​town radio stations via the Internet. 59% of listeners are men. 30% are aged 25–34. Internet radio listeners (25%) enjoy working with technology/​gadgets in their free time. And it looks like the digital advertising that radio networks are investing in is paying off: 46% of listeners took action based on an Internet banner ad in the past month.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.