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Global advertising expenditures across television, newspapers, magazines and radio dropped 7.2% during the the first quarter of 2009 vs. the same period in 2008, according to (pdf) a global advertising trends report released today by The Nielsen Company.

The “Global AdView Pulse” report reveals that the worldwide economic crisis is taking its toll on the ad sector and is affecting, to varying extents, every region of the world, every type of media and nearly every industry Nielsen tracks.

Ad Spend By Region

Though North America suffered the largest raw percentage decline of any region (-12.4%) with ad spend down 12.7% in the US, Nielsen said that Europe took the hardest hit overall during Q1, especially the individual countries of Spain (-28.2%), Ireland (-21.2%), Italy (-19.1%) and the UK (-14.7%).

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However, declines in global ad spend were stemmed somewhat by the Asia Pacific region, which posted only a 2.3% reduction vs. Q108. In Asia-Pacific, Indonesia’s elections helped that country post the most significant growth, with an increase of 19.1%. China also maintained growth but to a much lesser degree (+2.5%).

“The effects of the global financial crisis have certainly caught up with the ad sector in this latest quarter, especially in North America and Europe where virtually all of the territories we reported on recorded negative growth,” said Global AdView Managing Director, Ben van der Werf. “Even China, which usually sees a boost during Chinese New Year, posted subdued growth for the quarter of just 2.5% off the back of 17.1% growth in quarter four of 2008.”

Results by Media Type

The Nielsen report shows that advertising across all four traditional major media types (newspapers, TV, magazines and radio) was down in the quarter. Magazines fared the worst, down 17.4%, while newspapers saw a 9.1% decline.

Slowdowns in TV (-4.7%) and radio advertising (-2.5%) were more contained, the report said.
In terms of media breakout by region, the report reveals that print media is being hardest hit by the economic crisis, declining in all regions, especially North America where magazines ad spend was down 22.2% over Q108, and newspapers were down 15.6%.

While television ad spend was down in both Europe (-8.6%) and North America (-9.3%), the overall decline was balanced by slight increases in Asia Pacific (+1.0%). Radio saw a drop in North America (-8.2%) but was reasonably stable in Europe (-0.1%) and up slightly in Asia Pacific (+1.4%), making overall decline more contained.

Results by Industry Sector

By sector, only two industries escaped negative growth for the quarter: Distribution channels (+6.0%) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), which rose 0.2%.

Automotive, financial services, and clothing and accessories – which Nielsen said tend to be particularly vulnerable to financial turmoil – posted the largest losses in ad spend, down 19.9%, 16.7% and 15.7% respectively.

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“The declines in automotive and finance are ongoing and certainly not surprising given we have seen these sectors post ongoing drops in ad spend over several consecutive quarters,” said van der Werf. “Both sectors are especially exposed to the ensuing financial turmoil and, the declining ad spend is indicative of this.”

GroupM reported last month that worldwide ad spend in measured media is expected to drop 5.5% to $417 billion in 2009 but will experience a mild recovery in 2010 with a decline of only 1.4%, or $411 billion.

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