National spot is returning to radio. With only two weeks to go in first quarter, national spot, representing about 20 percent of the business, is currently pacing up 19 percent, according to Katz Media Group, which represents all the major radio groups. Second quarter is also off to a strong start, pacing up 20 percent.
May, traditionally radio's strongest month, is pacing up 23 percent. April is up 17 percent and June up 21 percent.
Although the increases are partially offset by easy comparisons to last year, the return of advertising to the medium is good news for the business and a caution to advertisers that have enjoyed placing campaigns at the last minute when the market was soft.
"The outlook for continued growth is supported by the advertising community's optimism about an improving economy. In addition, we are seeing increased market pricing based on strong across-the-board inventory demand, core category inclusion of radio and an improving understanding of radio's value and capabilities," wrote Stu Olds, president of Katz Media in his quarterly report.
Most of radio's core categories are pacing ahead in second quarter, including retail (up 85.9 percent), automotive (up nearly 42 percent) and telecom (up 51.5 percent).
The strength of the rebound is across all regions and in all size markets with the top 10 markets and markets in the South Central and Southeast, getting the biggest lift.
Radio is also expected to benefit from robust political advertising in the second half of the year. Katz's political division is forecasting radio will capture at least $250 million of the $3.3 billion total in political advertising.