Having suffered three successive quarters of declining adspend, Britain’s commercial radio sector enjoyed a mild upturn in advertising revenues in the first three months of 2002.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, commercial stations saw ad income rise 0.5% year-on-year in Q1 to £137.5 million (€218.4m; $200.7m).

Revenues were boosted by a near tenfold increase in spend by supermarket Sainsbury’s, after the firm’s research found that radio was its most productive ad medium after TV. However, top advertiser COI Communications (the administrative interface between the government and its ad agencies) slashed its spend 22.8% compared with Q1 2001 – coincidentally an election year.

The top ten advertisers (with spend and year-on-year percentage change in parentheses) were:

1. COI Communications (£8,7m, -22.8%)
2. Toyota (£2.2m, +139.6%)
3. British Telecom (£2.1m, -29.9%)
4. Orange (£2.1m, +757.2%)
5. News International (£1.8m, +55.1%)
6. Telewest (£1.7m, +240.8)
7. Masterfoods (£1.6m, +300.0%)
8. Sainsbury’s (£1.2m, +984.9%)
9. Ford (£1.2m, +136.4%)
10. Camelot (£1.1m, -10.9%)

The top ten radio buying agencies were:

1. OMD (£13.2m, -21.6%)
2. Zenith (£9.7m, +21.8%)
3. Carat (£5.8m, +13.3%)
4. MediaCom (£4.2m, +39.9%)
5. PHD (£4.1m, +12.4%)
6. MindShare (£3.5m, +15.9%)
7. Media Planning (£3.3m, +120.0%)
8. Optimedia (£2.6m, +99.4%)
9. Feather Brooksbank (£2.2m, +5.6%)
10. Media Vest (£2.0m, -40.4%)

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff