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U.S. Ad Spend Inched Up 2 Percent in 2012

NEW YORK — Nielsen today said advertising revenues rose 2 percent in 2012 over the previous year, on the strength of the presidential election and the summer elections. These traditional advertising bonanzas were offset by Superstorm Sandy and the “looming fiscal cliff,” Nielsen said.

Quarterly, on a year-to-year basis, the first, second and fourth quarters of 2012 were up just 1 percent, with the third quarter up a full 7 percent “he biggest driver of the year’s modest overall annual increase,” Nielsen said.

At the close of the year, U.S. auto companies spent the most money—$3.2 billion, up 1 percent from 4Q11—getting 2012 models off the lots. Spending by department stores advertising their holiday sales was down 6 percent from last, but up from 3Q12, to $1.28 billion, bringing them from fifth to second place in 4Q12 over all. Wireless carriers spent $1.24 billion in 4Q12, up 28 percent from the previous year. Fas food was up 1 percent to $1.08 million, and auto dealerships rounded out the top five with $966 million, up 1 percent from 4Q11.