Ad Spending Levels Maintained

Ad spending across all media was flat in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus data. Among TV platforms, those targeting African Americans showed a gain equal to cable TV over all--narly 13 percent. Spanish-language TV also grew, as did syndie. Network and spot TV fell slightly from last year.

From a product category perspective, total spending in the top 10 exceeded $10 billion, down around $49 million, or less than 1 percent compared to the first quarter of “07. The automotive industry cut back on ad buys to the tune of around $245 million quarter over quarter. However, auto dealerships show a slight gain of $4.2 million over last year, implying continued strength on the local level.

The top 10 individual advertisers spent a bit more than last year, investing nearly $4.3 billion in advertising versus more than $4.2 billion in Q1“07. Procter & Gamble led the pack with a 20 percent increase, laying out $903 million for ads in Q1 compared to $755 million a year ago. P&G“s pumped big bucks into make-up, toothpaste, razor blades and dish soap and its bone drug, Actonel.

Among individual companies, PepsiCo logged the biggest percentage increase in spending with a jump of nearly 40 percent. The company invested nearly $355 million in Q1 versus nearly $254 million last year, mostly to hawk its extensive variety of sugar waters.

General Motors defied the falling automotive category with 9 percent increase in spending, from $493 million last year to nearly $537 million in the first quarter this year. Toyota did likewise, spending more than $350 million on ads in the quarter compared to $294 million last year.

Ford was the only auto maker among the top 10 advertisers that cut back, from $46 million last year, to $330 million this year--a 26 percent decrease. Ford cut back on ads for its land yachts and muscle trucks, including the venerable F-Series, the Expedition, Land Rover and Cadillac. The company pumped up the volume a bit for its smaller vehicles like the Focus, but not enough to make up for the kind of money necessary to woo those who yearn to drive a quarry truck.