Radio: National Beats Local11/23/2003 07:00:00 PM Eastern
Fourth-quarter projections put spot radio flat or up a point or two, despite boosts in telecom, retail and, in some Southern California markets, "tragedy advertising," relating to the fires in the region. Healthy radio markets are reported in Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco and Washington.
Tim Wallace, managing director/senior broadcast analyst for UBS, offers a caveat-laden forecast for year's end.
"I see fourth quarter flat to up 2%, but it all depends on December," he says. "Pacings are flat to down, and advertisers are booking later. But early signs are that retail is starting to come on."
Sources at Interep also project flat-to-2% growth for the fourth quarter, with a healthy 20% boost in telecom ads.
"National advertising is relatively healthy," Wallace explains, "but local hasn't caught up. It's a demand problem, not a serious pricing problem. Retailers are being very, very cautious. They're not convinced the economy is back on track. That's acting psychologically. But retailers also know they can wait [for the best price] because inventory isn't sold out. That's acting strategically."
Says Maribeth Papuga, SVP/director of local broadcast, MediaVest, "I don't know if there's any money [out there]. We haven't seen large pushes in radio for fourth quarter. We haven't seen any increases, although there are pockets" of activity.
One Los Angeles-based agency source notes a "definite upswing…with annual buys starting to be placed." The national market is "aggressive," this source adds, noting, "The fires had an impact as insurance companies and the Red Cross, unable to reach families forced to relocate, turned to radio."
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