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Radio ad maker: business has “returned to normal”

Lowell Christensen

Lowell Christensen of SpotWorks

The Radio Advertising Bureau reports a slight up tick in radio advertising revenue for 2012: $17.4 billion, a one percent gain from 2010. That year saw a six percent improvement from 2009, from which the industry could only go up following losses of around a quarter of a billion in revenue in Q2 and over half a billion bucks in Q1.

“We all suffered some pretty drastic declines, but radio has jumped back pretty well,” RAB’s Jack Haley told The New York Times. “But like everybody else we’ll benefit from the compression of inventory from the Olympics and political expenditures, and it looks like we’ll have an unprecedented growth streak for the radio business.”

The market is still down from 2007, when radio ad revenue kicked in at $21.3 billion. But it’s probable that the resurgence of the auto industry, made possible in part by the Federal government bailout, played a big role in this latest comeback. Radio is hugely dependent on auto advertising. I e-mailed Lowell Christensen of SpotWorks Radio Creative Services to get his take on the situation. SpotWorks writes and produces radio ads.

“Yes, when the recession hit – things went bad,” Christensen responded. “Mostly because the automotive industry pretty much drives the economy, especially in regards to advertising.  But the automotive industry got their house in order quickly (thanks to the Gov’t of course).”

But: “I would say things have returned to normal,” he added:

“The last 2 years have been strong for my company.  Last month was a record month in terms of automotive advertising.  I noticed a bit of a drop in other industries after 2008 and there were a couple of slow years overall, but my feeling is that both automotive and other industries (such as retail advertising and direct response radio… the selling of products direct to consumer)… have returned to the same levels as before the recession.

I can’t speak for media buyers and radio stations themselves, but certainly on the creative and production end, retailers and auto dealers are back in full force.”

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