4 Smart Ways to Grow Local Ad Revenue

July 12, 2019 - 3 minutes read

4 Smart Ways to Grow Local Ad Revenue (Hint: Think Digital)

With the economy humming and a hotly-contested election year approaching, local advertisers are opening their wallets to connect with consumers. This year, the total local ad market is projected to $148.8 billion, up slightly from the previous year, according to the latest forecast by BIA Kelsey. Local radio will claim about 10% of those dollars, or roughly $14.5 billion, also a small increase from last year. And while that’s a solid share of dollars, radio can grow its fortunes by looking at other media.

Traditional media, including broadcast radio, commands about 60% of local ad spending, while digital channels earn the remaining 40%. As local marketers shift more dollars to digital, BIA’s five-year projection show digital growing its share of ad spend, while traditional media loses ground. Facing that challenge, radio stations should keep developing their digital products and play for a larger cut. Here are four smart plays for digital based BIA’s forecasting and other media industry trends.  

1) Move on Mobile

With Americans are spending more time on their smartphones and tablets, driving up app usage and mobile web time. They’re hooked on social media and digital video, driving advertisers to shift money to mobile. Radio stations have invested in their mobile apps and social channels, and can offer marketers both custom sponsorship opportunities on these platforms or in tandem with on-air campaigns. 

2) Double down on digital radio

While radio’s overall ad take is up slightly, online radio is driving the growth and up about 10% this year, BIA reports. That makes digital listening a bright spot for radio and its ad partners. As more listeners tune in via smart speakers and mobile devices, radio’s online audiences should continue to grow. Stations can offer clients solutions to reach digital listeners and develop products to embrace new tech, including voice ads and promotions.

3) Produce more local video

Digital video is fast-growing and some radio stations have started producing their own video. That ranges from cameras inside studios to original video series. As radio builds its video chops, stations can offer advertisers custom video ad opportunities, including ad production, branded content, and pre-roll and post-roll inventory on mobile and digital.  

4) Develop social strategies

Social media marketing is limited due to networks’ restrictions, but radio stations can still find clever ways to showcase ad partners. Popular hosts and station social posts can drive listeners to events and retail locations. 


While broadcast radio is proven to help local businesses build engagement and drive sales,  digital offers future growth opportunities. Savvy radio stations will focus on both. As BIA’s chief economist Mark Fratrik put it: “The key for revenue growth (and protection) today is not just to look at the media in your sector, but across all local media because you compete across all ad channels today.”