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SMI On Radio Ad Spend: Quarterly Up 3% Year-Over-Year, April Up 66% Vs. 2020.

Standard Media Index's just-released media investment report shows radio's ad spend for first-quarter 2022 up 3% compared to Q1 2021, although underperforming the total industry's 14% gain. Out-of-home and digital media showed the biggest growth, with only digital up in spend vs. first-quarter of 2020, before the brunt of the financial impact caused by COVID lockdowns.

Comparing April 2022's spend to that of two years earlier, when the pandemic lockdown was in full effect, radio's growth is ahead of total media, up 66% vs. 60%, behind only out-of-home's +74% and digital's +110%. Year-over-year, radio's April ad spend is off by 11%.

SMI's analysis – based on data from major holding companies and large independent agencies, representing up to 95% of all U.S. national brand ad spending – also shows a steady slow-down in total media ad spend's monthly year-over-year increase during 2022, up just 4% in April vs. a year earlier compared, to +20%, +15% and +8% for January, February and March, respectively. Compared to pre-COVID April 2019, ad spend was off by 1%.

Among the top-spending product category groups, growing the most from April 2021 to April 2022 were travel (up 63%) and apparel and accessories (up 32%), while among the top five categories only pharma and financial services increased year-over-year spend, the latter passing automotive for fourth place. Digital's increase during April drove ad spend growth for banking and investments, general services, personal care, prescription drugs and entertainment. At the same time, linear TV's 9% drop was driven by lower spend from auto vehicle and dealerships, insurance, tech, prescription drugs and food.

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