Network Radio On The Rise!

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mixing board

Katy Bachman at Media Week puts the statistics in context about radio (Empahsis mine -GW):

Network radio is undergoing a renaissance. At a time when the economy is squeezing local advertisers and local media, the medium—with its attractive efficiencies, targeted reach and greater accountability—is thriving.

Up 4 percent in 2007 to $1.15 billion, the health of network radio stands in stark contrast to the rest of the on-air radio business, which declined 3 percent to $18.5 billion. Net radio is nearly sold out through May, buoyed by retail, financial services, telecommunications, and cable and TV tune-ins. “It is a sort of hot new medium,” said Maja Mijatovic, director of national radio, Horizon Media.

This is profoundly exciting news for the network stations. Despite the doom sayers we are seeing an uptick in radio usage by the PR departments of many national chains such as Sears and Home Depot. Another factor is the local brands around the U.S. that are consolidating into national ones. For them, the reach and economics of broadcast advertising just make sense.

Once you factor in the extended reach that collaborative efforts such as the CBS Radio/Last.fm partnership I explored in yesterday’s post, it is easy to get the impression that these numbers will continue to escalate. As the networks embrace the flexibility that is a hallmark of the digital age their processes become more streamlined and efficient, a boon to advertisers looking to utilize the medium.

Mergers in key industries like retail and banking aren’t the only reason the medium is bucking the generally downward trend in radio. Over the past few years, players like ABC Radio Networks, Premiere Radio Networks, Dial-Global and Westwood One have worked to make the medium more flexible, offering copy splits down to the station level with quicker turnaround and as fast as four days for many networks. Although most splits are regional, one recent campaign had 83 copy splits.

“Network radio can almost behave like a local buy,” said Agnes Lukasewych, senior vp, group account director of radio at MPG. “The more flexibility the networks can provide, the more advertisers will continue to stay in.”

It is a lovely little article and well worth checking out, especially for those who consistently quote the downturn statistics without examining the broader context within the industry.

Photo courtesy of mrhappy, used under its Creative Commons licens

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