Total advertising expenditures declined 4.1% in 2008 to $141.7 billion as compared with 2007, and ad spending during Q408 plunged 9.2% vs. the same period in 2007, according to data released today by TNS Media Intelligence.

TNS attributes these declines to the struggling economy, deteriorating consumer confidence and weakening corporate balance sheets, and also noted that preliminary figures for Q109 show a continuing contraction in spending and little change in the health of the overall ad economy.

Measured Ad Spending By Medium

Internet display advertising expenditures grew by 4.6% in 2008, the weakest full-year results for the online mediaum since the bust of 2002, TNS said. The only other media types achieving full-year growth were Syndication TV (+6.5%); Spanish Language Magazines (+4.9%); Cable TV (+2.1%); Free Standing Inserts (+1.8%); and Spanish Language TV (+0.1%).


Not surprisingly, TNS reported that print media felt the harshest effects of accelerating and deep cutbacks across core ad categories. Measured ad spending in the newspaper sector was 11.8% lower in 2008, compared with the prior year. Consumer magazine expenditures declined by 7.5%.

Despite the extra ad spending associated with the Summer Olympics and political elections, broadcast TV also saw total ad revenue shrink in 2008. Spot TV was down 2.8 % and Network TV down by 0.8%. In addition to the the well-documented pullbacks from the automotive, financial service and retail categories, broadcasters were also hit with more conservative outlays from a broad range of consumer-packaged-goods marketers.

Measured Ad Spending by Advertiser

The top 10 advertisers of 2008 spent a combined total of $17,306.3 million in measured media, a drop of 2.1% over 2007. Among the top 100 marketers – a diversified group representing more than 40% of the measured ad economy – 2008 spending fell 3.8%, to $61,400.0 million.


Procter & Gamble was again the largest advertiser with $3,178.0 million in spending, though spending was down 7.0% versus a year ago. Verizon Communications held onto the #2 position with expenditures of $2,393.1 million, a gain of 4.3%, and distanced itself from rival AT&T which reduced its outlays by 10.4%, to $1,979.2 million.

General Motors expenditures, despite a Q4 retrenchment, were up 11.3% to $2,229.1 million for the full year. Toyota Motor was the only other automaker to crack the Top Ten rankings, according to TNS. Its spending was $1,021.3 million, a drop of 3.8% from 2007.

The largest increase among the Top 10 was registered by General Electric, up 17.3% to $1,200.6 million. The largest decline came from Time Warner, down 20.9% to $1,298.1 million. For both companies, the results were primarily influenced by their movie studio divisions.

Measured Ad Spending by Category

Expenditures for the 10 largest advertising categories slipped 4.4% in 2008 and totaled $77,850.5 million. In aggregate this group accounts for more than one-half of all measured ad spending.


Automotive remained the largest category by dollar volume even though expenditures tumbled 15.4% to $12,783.8 million. Dealers cut their marketing investments more aggressively (-24.4%) than manufacturers (-9.9%) and the reductions accelerated in Q4. Automotive spending has now declined for 14 consecutive quarters.

Financial services held onto the second position with full-year expenditures of $9,649.1 million, a small decline of 0.3%. Rising budgets from retail bankers were offset by lower ad spending at credit card companies and consumer lenders.

Significant increases occurred in the restaurant category, where heightened competition pushed spending ahead 6.3% to $5,637.9 million; and also in food & candy which advanced 4.0% to $5.990.3 million as manufacturers sought to defend their brand-label businesses against the growing threat of generic and private label offerings.

Notable spending reductions included miscellaneous retail (-7.1%, to $8,330.4 million); telecom (-5.7%, to $8,447.0 million); and direct response (-4.5%, to $7,250.2 million).

Ad spending for 2009 is predicted to be down anywhere from 8.3% (Zenith Optimedia) to 9% (JP Morgan) to 9.8% (Carat), reports MediaBuyerPlanner.


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