U.S. Ad Market Continues To Recede: Internet, FSIs Only Media To Grow

U.S. ad spending declined for the fifth consecutive quarter during the second quarter of 2009, and while the rate of erosion moderated slightly from the previous quarter, a top industry economist says it still isn’t clear whether demand for advertising is actually improving. “While it’s tempting to interpret this as a positive indicator that things aren’t getting worse, the fact remains that the market has been steadily tracking at around 14% declines for several consecutive months and this represents billions of lost revenue,” Jon Swallen, senior vice president-research at TNS Media Intelligence stated as part of the ad tracking and forecasting firm’s second quarter data release this morning.

Swallen added that preliminary data from the third quarter “hints” at possible improvements among some media due to “easy comparisons against distressed levels of year ago expenditures.”

In fact, a MediaDailyNews analysis of quarterly spending data throughout the recession indicates that U.S. ad spending has receded for eight of the 10 quarters since it began dipping in the first quarter of 2007, according to TNS MI’s tracking of measured media ad spending (see table below).

Quarterly Ad Spending

Q2 ‘09


Q1 ‘09


Q4 ‘08


Q3 ‘08


Q2 ‘08


Q1 ‘08


Q4 ‘07


Q3 ‘07


Q2 ‘07


Q1 ‘07


Q4 ‘06


Source: TNS Media Intelligence

As Swallen noted, the percent decreases have translates into billions of dollars of lost revenues to media and to Madison Avenue. It also reflects dramatic shifts in among America’s top ad spenders. According to the data, Procter & Gamble slashed nearly $300 million of its first half advertising budget, dropping it from the nation’s largest advertiser to No. 2, behind Verizon, which boosted its ad budget 3.1% during the half.

The telecommunications category, in fact, has been one of the few growth sectors. AT&T’s ad budget expanded 6.3% during the half, making it the third largest advertiser, and Spring Nextel boosted its ad spending 55.3%, making it the seventh largest advertiser in the nation.

General Motors, the sole automotive marketer in the top 10 ranking, slashed its budget 25.9%, but the automotive category remained the nation’s largest, despite a 31.1% cut in first half spending, placing it barely ahead of telecommunications, which rose 7.5% overall.

Among the major media tracked by TNS MI, only Internet display advertising (+6.5%), and newspaper free-standing inserts (+4.6%), managed any growth. TV declined 10.0%, magazines plummeted 20.9%, and newspapers and radio dropped 24.2% and 24.6%, respectively. Outdoor media also declined 15.7%.