Radio ad market down 27% in September

Former Editor & Content Director

The radio advertising market was down 27.3% in September compared to the same month in 2019, according to new Standard Media Index (SMI) figures.

The number may seem significant, however it is the least severe drop the medium has experienced since COVID-19 lockdowns and the associated economic recession really kicked in.

The market was already in decline prior to COVID-19, and the radio ad market was back 12.6% in March. By April, it was back 45% year-on-year, and in May this had surged to a catastrophic 55.8%. Radio ad spend in June was down 42.6% year-on-year.

This financial year, the declines have somewhat improved, with July down 28.4%, August down 32.8%, and new September figures showing the decline is now at 27.3% year-on-year.

For the month of September, this puts radio in a relatively solid position compared to its counterparts.

The only sectors faring better are television (back 19.5% in September) and digital (down 2.7%).

Newspapers, back 46.3%, magazines (down 56.2%), outdoor (-62.0%) and cinema (-90.5%) all suffered worse than radio in September.

Early October data, however, indicates that television will return to growth with a positive 8.8% improvement year-on-year, while radio is tracking at a decline of 29.6% year-on-year.

The television figures are likely influenced by key sporting events, such as the NRL and AFL Grand Finals, being played and broadcast later than planned.

SMI AU/NZ’s managing director, Jane Ractliffe, also noted that an extra Monday in September last year would “especially affect” radio, given the increased level of “week commencing bookings” included in the September 2019 result.

Ractliffe said there were some positive signs on the horizon.

“SMI’s Forward Booking data shows advertising demand for November returning to pre-COVID levels with more than 60% of the value of last November’s total ad spend already confirmed before the month’s trading has even begun,’’ she said, referring to the wider media market.

SMI measures ad booking via media agency groups.

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