Executives at Procter & Gamble have publicly extolled the efficacy of radio ever since the consumer packaged goods giant returned to the airwaves in 2017. The world’s largest advertiser has been upping its AM/FM outlay ever since. Now an exclusive Inside Radio analysis of Media Monitors data shows P&G nearly doubled its radio spot volume last year, clocking in with 2.32 million spots in 2019, compared to 1.22 million in 2018.

The new data shows P&G was radio’s third largest advertiser in 2019, based on spot volume, trailing only The Home Depot and GEICO, which remained at the pinnacle of the Top 100 for a third consecutive year. But P&G placed four brands in the 2019 tally. And each increased its radio weight in vast numbers. Vicks aired 968,214 spots last year, almost twice as many as it bought in 2018. That made the cold relief medication radio’s No. 12 advertised brand in 2019, up from No. 37 in 2018. Bounty and Charmin were next, ranking at No. 35 and No. 36, respectively, in 2019, each with more than half a million spots. Charmin placed less than half that amount in 2018 and Bounty didn’t rank at all in 2018’s Top 100. P&G’s Tide ran 293,981 spots in 2019, to finish at No. 76, up from No. 84 in 2018. Febreze air freshener, the No. 49 radio advertiser of 2018, didn't place in the Top 100 last year.

P&G is known for meticulous use of research and Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard explained how it uses reams of data “to get the one-to-one precisions” in media buying. “It’s why we rediscovered the power of audio,” Pritchard said in a conversation with Bob Pittman on the iHeartMedia CEO’s “Math & Magic” podcast last week. When P&G reinvented its marketing strategy, it opened a door to “different types of audio opportunities,” he recounted, including broadcast, satellite and internet radio. “These all offered new opportunities with new ways to engage consumers. We followed consumers where they are spending their time,” Pritchard said.

Radio Stalwarts

The Home Depot and GEICO remained the top two radio advertisers in 2019 for a third consecutive year, as each aired millions of ads and slightly upped their spot volume. The home improvement retailer went from 2.57 million spots in 2018 to 2.60 million last year while the insurance provider increased from 2.21 to 2.51 million spots. Online job recruitment service Indeed inched up from No. 4 to No. 3, followed by McDonald’s, which boosted its radio volume by 50% to 1.5 million ads, and climbed from No. 8 to No. 4. The Home Deport rival Lowe’s held steady at No. 5 even as it aired hundreds of thousands more spots.

Insurer Progressive bolstered its radio presence dramatically, shooting up from No. 10 to No. 6. Macy’s was No. 7, down from No. 6. Sprint doubled its radio volume last year, pushing it from radio’s 20th largest advertiser to No. 8. JC Penney was next at No. 9 (down from No. 3 in 2018) while gaming center Seriously got serious about radio with more than one million spots to rocket from No. 42 to No. 10.

Seriously wasn’t the only advertiser that rose dramatically on the Media Monitors 2019 tally, which tracks radio advertising in 85 markets. Within the Top 20, State Farm (No. 26 in 2018, No 10 in 2019), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (57-16) and Capital One (43-19) all doubled their radio spot count in 2019.

Meanwhile, some advertisers headed in the opposite direction. CVS fell from No. 11 to No. 31. And AT&T and Ford Dealer Association disappeared from the Top 100 after ranking No. 32 and No. 51, respectively in 2018.

For calendar year 2019, the top 10 on the Media Monitors’ tally are: The Home Depot at 1, GEICO at 2, Indeed at 3, McDonald’s at 4, Loewe’s at 5, Progressive at 6, Macy’s at 7, Sprint at 8, JC Penney at 9 and Seriously at 10. – Paul Heine