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Who’s Betting on Radio?

And who isn’t?

A recently released study of Q1 2013 radio advertising spending from the Radio Advertising Bureau shows ad dollars to be relatively flat. However, who is and who isn’t putting their money into radio has shifted since Q1 2012.

While some categories remained relatively unchanged since 2012, others saw significant changes in advertising strategy.

Car sales were slow in the beginning of 2013, which translated into automakers and dealer groups offering incentives and pulling back on advertising. This brought revenue down 20% from 2012 performance and resulting in the category dropping to number three. Toyota Dealer Association was down 2% but still led the category with expenditures just short of the combined spending of number two Honda Dealer Association (-11%) and number three Ford Dealer Association (+22%).

Overall, ad spend for beverages experienced a slight drop at the start of the year (down 4%), but some advertisers bumped up spending: Diageo North America, parent of brands such as Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan and Guinness, ranked number one for the category in spending and in percentage increase — up 148% versus Q1 2012.

While casinos and lottery spending dropped by 15% in Q1 2013, Harrah’s (ranked number two within the category) was up 15%, although still behind the combined spending of all state lotteries. Hollywood Casino was up by 68% and now is the second-highest casino spender.

The communications/cellular category’s spending was up 36% versus Q1 2012. Four of the top five advertisers in this category increased their spending significantly in the quarter.

The concerts/theaters/movies category experienced a slight decrease versus same time period last year (-4%). 20th Century Fox increased its spending 110% compared to Q1 2012.

The economy and increased activity in the housing market promoted a stimulus in radio ads for financial services, which were up 13%.

Insurance dropped 9%, one spot to number seven, versus Q1 ’12. GEICO was up 23% and State Farm Insurance was up 11% over last year. USAA Insurance moved into the number four rank for the category with a 31% increase. American Family Insurance retained the number three ranking from Q1 ’12 while down 14%.

A 58% increase in the first quarter of 2013 indicates the department and discount stores subcategory for retail is contributing to radio revenue. Walmart doubled its radio spending, and at the number two slot, Target amped up spending 71% for the quarter, followed by Macy’s (up 1%). T.J. Maxx rose to number four.

The home improvement subcategory saw a 64% decrease. Home Depot continued as the top subcategory spender. Menards Building Supply (+2%) is now ranked second — a position previously held by Lowes, now fourth.

Specialty retail experienced a slight decrease (-3%), but the top three spending advertisers collectively doubled their spot presence (102%) over Q1 2012. Number one Old Navy tripled its radio spending.

Television/networks/cable providers are the leading spender for radio advertising and hold the number two rank for spot revenue this quarter despite being relatively flat (-3%) against Q1 2012. While many major companies altered their ad budget, some noticeable shifts came from CW Network (+82%, number eight), TBS Turner Broadcasting System (+250%, number 11) and USA Network (+154%, number 12).