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SMI: Ad Spend On Radio Still Ahead of 2020, Although Off From 2021.

Standard Media Index's just-out advertising expenditure report for August 2022 shows the industry as a whole in a better place than it was in July, with ad spend down just 3% from a year earlier, vs. July's -11% year-over-year. SMI's analysis of third-quarter 2022 to date shows radio spend up 3% from 2020 while down 17% from 2021.

SMI's figures are based on actual spend data from major agency holding companies and large independent agencies representing up to 95% of all U.S. national brand ad spending. As such they exclude local ad sales, which make up the majority of radio revenues.

SMI’s new report shows overall downtrends in July and August were driven by the absence of NBA finals and Olympics ad dollars on linear TV. Excluding the carriers of these events for those two months, ad spend increases to between +2%-to-+3% year-over-year, suggesting greater market stability principally fueled by digital media, itself up 7% for Q3-to-date.

Total industry ad spend is off by 7% for Q3 so far (July and August) vs. 2021, with radio off that pace at -17%, although still up 3% from 2020. Bucking that downtrend are not only digital – showing its best Q3-to-date on record, newly representing two-thirds of ad dollars – but also out-of-home, approaching 2019 spend levels, and newspapers, driven by more people returning to offices and earlier commuting routines. Without the Olympics and NBA finals, linear TV displayed the steepest drop at -29%.

While consumer packaged goods remain the largest ad category group, up 7% in ad spend from August 2021, travel and retail are the biggest gainers, up 28% and 11% respectively year-over-year. Travel continues to be the fastest growing group, although its growth rate has slowed considerably compared with August 2021, when consumers' desire to return to normal after COVID's first waves led to a +175% spend gain. Automotive's +3% uptick in August marks a three-year high, even as it's one of auto's lowest ad spend months on record since 2017, according to SMI.

Of the top five companies, only Disney shows ad revenue up vs. August 2021, with a meager 1% lift. Meta is basically flat (-0.1%) while Warner Bros. Discovery (-5%) and Google (-7%) are off by single-digits year-over-year. Comcast, however, falls 41% due to changes in sports programming.

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