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Borrell: Digital Contributed One In Five Local Radio Ad Dollars In 2023.

Borrell Associates says local digital advertising totaled $99.8 billion in 2023, increasing 5.3% from the prior year. This year it is forecast to cross the $100 billion threshold, accounting for 71% of all local advertising expenditures.

One in five of local radio advertising dollars came from digital advertising last year, according to a new Borrell report. It says 21%, or $1.9 billion, of local radio ad revenue came from digital sales. That is smaller than the 45.5% share for digital at local newspapers, but bigger than digital’s 16.9% share at local television.

“While the lion’s share of that money goes west to the likes of Google, Facebook, and other big pureplay Internet companies, a growing portion is remaining in local markets,” Borrell says in the annual benchmarking report. “Digital revenue has become the standard salve for many media companies attempting to restore revenue growth to their companies.”

Borrell says the average radio, TV, newspaper, and cable operation received about $2 million in digital revenue last year. But that wasn’t enough to offset losses due to declining core revenue. Of the 21 companies analyzed, eight saw year-over-year declines in digital revenue and only three reported growth in overall top-line revenue.

The report is a followup to a benchmarking study that Borrell released in February with the RAB. It showed radio’s digital revenue grew 6.8% in 2023, reaching $1.9 billion and stealing market share from other local media competitors. It predicts the radio industry will see double-digit growth rates in digital ad sales during 2024, pushing revenue past the $2 billion mark as nearly one of every five dollars radio bills this year will come from digital sales. The report says digital sales since the pandemic have helped restore overall growth to the radio industry, delivering a positive compound annual growth rate of 6.4% since 2020 when combining digital and core radio revenue.

“What’s most impressive is that radio came out fighting for digital dollars when the pandemic hit and hasn’t let up for a second,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. “The fact that they’ve stolen market share from competing media for the past four years is remarkable. They’re not quite owning the digital space yet, but they are well on their way.”

Among radio companies, Borrell says Entravision had the biggest share of its revenue from digital. It accounted for 84.3% of Entravision’s gross ad revenue last year. Townsquare Media is the only other radio company that had a majority of its revenue from digital sales. Borrell says Townsquare’s digital advertising added up to 52.3% of gross 2023 revenue.

Among other radio groups, most others had double-digit shares, including Salem Media Group (42.3%), iHeartMedia (30.5%), Urban One (28.4%), Audacy (24.7%), Cumulus Media (19.8%), Beasley Media Group (18.5%), and Saga Communications (9.3%).

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