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U.S. Ad Spending Fell 12 Percent in 1Q

NEW YORK: The U.S. advertising market was down 12 percent for the first quarter of this year compared to 1Q08, according to Nielsen. Preliminary figures indicate U.S. ad expenditures declined $3.8 billion to a total of $27.9 billion in the first quarter. All measured media registered declines.

“These first quarter results will hardly come as a surprise to an advertising industry that’s struggling just like many other areas of the American economy,” said Annie Touliatos, vice president of sales development for Monitor-Plus, Nielsen’s ad tracking service.

Television remains the dominant medium for advertisers, accounting for two-thirds of all ad dollars. Network TV, the largest media category with $5.76 billion in ad dollars in the first quarter, declined 4.8 percent. Spanish-Language Cable TV fared best, falling only 1.1 percent, while Syndication was hit hardest, down 18.8 percent. Only African-American television--a subset of Network, Cable, Syndicated, and Local—grew, up 7.9 percent.

MEDIA CATEGORY 1Q09 versus 1Q08 % Change
Spanish-Language Cable TV -1.1%
Cable TV -2.7%
Internet* -3.4%
Network TV -4.8%
FSI Coupon -7.5%
Spot Radio -9.0%
Outdoor -10.7%
Network Radio -12.6%
Spanish-Language TV -13.8%
Local Newspaper -14.3%
Spot TV Top 100 DMAs -15.6%
Syndication TV -18.8%
National Magazine -20.6%
Local Magazine -23.6%
National Sunday Supplement -25.9%
National Newspaper -27.7%
Spot TV 101-210 DMAs -28.9%
B-to-B Magazines -29.9%
Local Sunday Supplements -37.7%
TOTAL -12%
* CPM-based, image-based advertising

By category, automotive continued to slide. Spending in the category was down nearly $723 million, or 27.7 percent. Local dealership spending was down $271 million--around 24 percent. More than 3,000 dealerships completely stopped advertising.

Direct Response products continued to climb (+14%) mainly due to increased advertising for Heat Surge Heaters, Snuggie Blankets, Rosetta Stone Computer Software, and Video Professor Computer Software.
Quick Service Restaurant ad spend is thriving through the economic downturn and showed added spending from many companies, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Yum! Brands, Subway, and TPG Capital (Burger King).

PRODUCT CATEGORY 1Q09 $mil 1Q08 $mil % Change
Automotive (Factory & Dealer Assoc.) $1,886.8 $2,610 -27.7
Quick Service Restaurant $1,086.9 $1,009.3 -7.7
Pharmaceutical $1,071.5 $1,208.3 -11.3
Wireless Telephone Services $954.9 $917.4 -4.1
Motion Picture $878.8 $903.2 -2.7
Local Auto Dealerships $857.3 $1,129 -24.1
Direct Response Product $665.5 $583.4 -14.1
Department Stores $649.6 $710 -8.5
Restaurants $428.0 $424.9 -0.7
Furniture Stores $403.1 $412.4 -2.3
Total Top 10 Product Categories $8,882.4 $9,907.8 -10.3
Note: Data excludes B-to-B magazine spending

--Deborah D. McAdams