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Local U.S. Ad Revenue to Surge, Driven by Politics

Radio shares in benefits of local election spending

Total local advertising revenue in the U.S. will reach $161.3 billion in 2020, up 5.8% from this year, according to BIA Advisory Services.

Commercial radio, with its still-significant reliance on local OTA advertising, should benefit from wider trends in local spending, including 2020’s election calendar. Although TV and online platforms will snag most of the political money in 2020, BIA said, radio will still receive about $312 million in local political ads.

[Read: U.S. Local Advertising Revenues Predicted to Increase 5.2% in 2018]

Across the board, “traditional” media revenue will account for 58.5% of total local advertising in 2020 at $94.4 billion, BIA believes. Online/digital revenue will grow to $66.9 billion, or 41.5% of total local media revenue.

BIA Advisory Services; radio ad revenue, radio advertising, Mark Fratrik


“The expectation of an aggressive presidential election next year, along with primaries and statewide races, indicate that political ad spending will be a serious driver of local ad revenue next year,” said Mark Fratrik, chief economist and SVP at BIA Advisory Services, quoted in the announcement. “Combine these factors with the ongoing growth of mobile and social advertising and the emergence and future significant advancement in over-the-top advertising, the revenue landscape for next year looks robust.”

Among BIA’s findings:

  • OTT locally activated advertising will be more than $1 billion and should double in another four years;
  • Local political ads will total $6.58 billion overall next year, led by broadcast TV and online/digital media;
  • Mobile spending is expected to be $29.5 billion, growing to $44.6 billion by 2024. Close to 40% of mobile spending will be tied to native social.

BIA Advisory Services projects “significant” ad spending in native social advertising next year. Social media ad revenues from all forms of mobile devices now represent about 93.8% of total social ad spending, BIA said, and will grow to nearly 96% by 2024 as more user activity shifts from desktops to portable devices.