LONDON: UK commercial radio posted an adspend boost during the first quarter of the year, with marketers driving £158.8m ($312m; €197.9m) into the medium during the January-March period.

Figures from trade body RadioCentre reveal total revenue (including national and local advertising and sponsorship and promotion) rose 7%, compared with the year earlier period - the sector's strongest revenue performance since Q1 2005.

National advertising reached £95.6m, up 9% year on year, while sponsorship and promotion was £24.6m, up 11%. Local advertising, however, fared less well and slipped 2% to £38.6m.

RadioCentre ceo Andrew Harrison is, nonetheless, bullish about future prospects: "This is great news for our sector and these revenues show there is an increasing understanding of radio's role in the digital age – including its effectiveness when used alongside online advertising."  
However, media buyers have warned that Q2 numbers will not be as solid as the economic downturn begins to make its mark.

Says Mediaedge:cia broadcast account director Ross Nester: "The main two drivers for Q1's increased national ad spend are an early Easter and the fact that COI, radio's largest advertiser, spends most of its money during this period.

"However, the effects of the credit crunch will probably feature in next quarter's results."

Adds Howard Bareham, head of radio at MindShare: "April was terrible. May has been slightly better so far. Everyone is now holding out for the money to pour back into June, otherwise the quarter could end on a negative or on par [with Q1]."

Data sourced from Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff