RAB Will No Longer Release Revenue Estimates
Turns out that an industry revenue report from the Radio
Advertising Bureau last winter was the last that we will see from the organization.
to discontinue reporting radio revenue data. It will not release a mid-year report, published in the past in August; nor does it plan full-year reports. Not long ago, the reports came quarterly; that changed last year.
Radio World and other trade publications have reported RAB
estimates regularly over the years, as well as estimates from other sources; and financial observers frequently reference
them to gauge industry performance.
The reports broke out revenue into on-air, off-air and digital sales figures (digital has been the big growth sector, by percentage, lately); and they highlighted spending in advertiser segments
such as financial services, automotive and retail. The most recent RAB estimate put 2015 total year revenues
at $17.4 billion; see chart.
to stop follows the example of some other media. The Newspaper Association of
America ceased releasing data several years ago. “RAB is following the
trend set by other trade associations,” said President and CEO Erica Farber. “There
are other companies whose business is to forecast and report revenue numbers.”
U.S. commercial radio revenue had ripped off positive growth
numbers in the RAB estimates year over year throughout most of the 1980s and ‘90s, according to Radio World
archives, which date to RAB data from 1981 and show the industry passing the estimated $10
billion revenue mark in 1994. Most recently the RAB results were based on information from accounting firm Miller Kaplan Arase LLP.
But in the past 15 years, flat to negative reports were
far more common. The period 2008–2010 was bad for radio and
the entire economy; but even in the past three years, RAB found itself
reporting total-year performance numbers of flat to slight declines, even taking digital
revenue growth into account.
In the past, such results have produced less-than-flattering
portrayals of the industry’s health. Numbers from the RAB report of February
2009, for example, led AdWeek to surmise that radio had experienced
its worst year in history with the headline “Radio Crippled in 2009.”
According to Farber, the RAB’s primary mission is to advocate on behalf of
the broadcast radio industry. “RAB is strengthening its focus on its mission in
order to elevate radio’s perception among marketers and their agency partners,”
The last RAB report, released in March,
touted an increase in digital ad revenue, and predicted that numbers
would grow throughout 2016. It was headlined “Broadcast
Radio - America’s #1 Reach Medium - Confirms Advertiser Appeal In 2015; Digital, Off-Air Platform Revenues Hit New
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