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BIA Forecasts Local Ad Spending To Grow 9% In 2024; Sees Stronger Digital Growth For Radio.

Traditional media will hold onto a slight edge over digital with a surge of political dollars largely behind what is shaping up to be a better year for local advertising. BIA Advisory Services has updated its outlook for 2024, and it expects total local ad spending to increase 9.3% compared to last year. That is a slight two-point lowering of its growth outlook compared to the forecast released by BIA in October.

“Our slight adjustment down for this year is mainly due to mixed economic signals, a slowdown in certain consumer purchases, and lower than expected spending in digital and direct mail advertising at the end of 2023 that may flow into this year,” said Nicole Ovadia, VP of Forecasting & Analysis in a statement. “However, we still anticipate 2024 to be better for local advertising than 2023 and certain media like TV over the air, TV digital, and CTV/OTT are growing substantially.”

BIA forecasts local over-the-air radio ad sales will total $10.78 billion with another $2.98 billion from online sales. That is a mixed outlook compared to its last update released in October. BIA thinks radio’s digital radio will grow a half percent more than it did in the fall, but it also estimates over-the-air local ad sales will be four-tenths of a point less than before.

“As expected, local political advertising will be substantial this year, and it’s fueling spend across the media landscape,” said Ovadia said.

BIA’s 2024 local advertising forecast update shows a small increase in expectations for local political advertising. It now estimates $11.1 billion in spending this year, up $100 million from its last forecast, and up 15.5% when compared to the 2020 election. Local television will continue to get the largest share of the spending, with forecasted increases in local political advertising also going to CTV/OTT. It is why BIA has – similar to radio – increased its outlook for TV’s digital business and downsized its growth projection for over-the-air sales.

Yet even with the revisions upward for digital ad sales on radio and television, BIA says traditional media will have the edge this year. It estimates $88 billion will be spent across traditional channels like radio and television this year, while $84 billion will be spent on digital media. That gives traditional a 51.3% share versus a 48.7% share for online advertising.

“Growth is occurring in both types of media,” BIA says. But it says 2024 will be a “breakout” year for connected TV/OTT. Fueled by political spending and higher CPMs, it forecasts CTV/OTT will grow 54% this year.

“Political and issue campaigns are recognizing that the combination of premium TV and targeted advertising can make a strong impact, using the same kinds of data ad buyers need with digital media,” said BIA’s Managing Director Rick Ducey. “Another factor supporting this growth is that we are observing spending leaking out of search and social and going into CTV/OTT.”

Beyond what is happening in political advertising, BIA says some other local ad verticals are also showing promise this year. It forecasts real estate spending will climb 12.5% and leisure and recreation spending will grow 4.7% compared to a year ago.

“One category to also watch is real estate, as there’s been so much pressure around home prices and interest rates,” said Ovadia. “We believe later this year when rates start to decrease, a flurry of activity will generate increased advertising, especially by realtors.

Those growth verticals will help to offset some of the softer categories, such as health care, which is forecast to slip by 3.3%. The automotive sector, still a big factor for many media outlets, is also predicted to cut back on its local ad spending by one percent.

“Declining verticals like health are level setting from the pandemic but certain key areas of this vertical are holding spending steady and even increasing,” Ovadia said. “Auto will not make a full recovery to pre-pandemic spending levels through the end of our forecast period in 2027.”

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