US Ad Spend Slips 11.5% through Q3; Auto Advertising Plunges 31%

December 11, 2009

US ad spending slipped 11.5%, or by $10.9 billion, to $83.4 billion through the first nine months of the year, according to Nielsen.

Spanish-language cable TV, free-standing insert coupons and cable TV were the only ad categories that posted gains so farin 2009, up 36.7%, 11.2% and 9.1% respectively, reports Media Buyer Planner. Nine of the top 10 cable advertisers boosted spending so far this year.

Internet ad spending is down 0.5%, while network TV is down 13.9% and spot TV is down 16%, Nielsen said.

Results for all media:


Category Ad Spending

Though auto advertising remained the top spending category, it plunged 30.9% for the first three quarters, with local auto dealership spending down 26.9%. Pharmaceutical is the second largest spending category, spending declined 4.6%.

Motion picture spending fell 1.7%. Overall, the top 10 product categories slipped 12.7%, with quick-service restaurants and direct-response products the only of the top 10 categories showing slight gains:


Further Nielsen analysis of the top product categories reveals more about where money was spent through Q309:

  • Almost 70% of all US ad spending by the top 10 product categories was invested in television.
  • Despite? pharmaceutical? overall decline, the category upped its radio ad spend 137%? and its internet spend increased by one-third.
  • TV ad spend by quick service restaurants remained essentially flat year-over-year, but the category dramatically boosted its print (+42%) and internet (+88%) budgets.
  • Local auto dealerships dropped their overall ad budgets 27%, but increased Internet ad spends 45%. The category is also the only one out the top ten that spent more on print media ($1.5 billion) than TV ($610 million) in the first nine months of the year.

North American ad spending is expected to drop anywhere from another 2.4% (per ZenithOptimedia) to 4% (per GroupM) in 2010.

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