Agency Survey Shows 'Rebirth'

                               Of Buyers' Interest In Radio

A survey of advertising agency buying teams finds fewer are cutting radio budgets, and client interest in the medium is growing. STRATA executives say the top three media – television, Internet and radio – also appear to be the breakout hits of the advertising recovery.

"It's looking very bright for radio," STRATA marketing chief J.D. Miller told Inside Radio. The firm's quarterly survey of buyers found 24 percent of agencies' clients are more focused on radio, up from 17 percent in the prior quarter. The number of agencies reporting they are spending less on radio is off by half – 17 percent say they're trimming radio budgets compared to 34 percent who said that three months ago.

When it came to classifying the advertising avenue that agency clients are most focused on, the STRATA survey found TV remains at the top with 44 percent, followed by digital at 21 percent. But even the survey takers were surprised with #3: radio. The results show 16 percent of clients rate radio as their top pick, compared to 9 percent who said that in the prior quarter's survey. Miller says, "Something good is happening for radio."

Beyond the top three, there's a "considerable drop off" of interest in other media. Print ranks fourth, with 7 percent of clients making it their top pick. Miller says that could be considered good news for newspaper publishers. "Print has a pulse – it was almost nonexistent, now it has a pulse," he says.


Agencies Grow More Confident In Recovery – and Old Media Friends

By their nature, media buyers are a tough crowd not known for gushing optimism. So when a survey shows a steady uptick in client activity, it's worth taking note.

More than half (51 percent) of buyers surveyed by STRATA say their agency is seeing improving business, up from a low of 23 percent during the 2008 economic meltdown. STRATA president/CEO John Shelton says, "Advertisers are finally feeling more confident about the economy."That confidence is manifesting itself in a surprising way. As budgets come back, buyers appear to be more interested in traditional advertising like television and radio – with demand for digital advertising going in the other direction.

"We see that the focus on digital has fallen off a bit," Shelton says. "While still hot, it is used more in a solid media mix than more dollars heading its way."

The most popular digital menu items are Web site display ads, social media and search. Mobile may have buzz, but just 29 percent of buyers say they're buying mobile ads. Among those who are, mobile display is the preferred format with SMS text ads fading fast. Just 15 percent of agency buyers say they're on their radar in 2011.