US Ad Spending Grew by 3% in 2012

March 12, 2013

Kantar-percent-change-in-measured-ad-spend-2012-mar13US ad spending increased by 2% year-over-year in Q4 2012, and by 3% for the full year to reach $139.5 billion, per the latest figures from Kantar Media. The figures may actually underestimate growth, as Kantar’s online spending estimates only include display advertising, which the report says declined by 3% for the year. (Given the recent growth trajectory of online ad spending – mainly fueled by search – it’s more likely that online ad spending growth was somewhere in the double digits last year.)

Display advertising aside, the Kantar data reveals some interesting (if none too surprising) dynamics in the traditional media market.

  • TV

All forms of TV media showed spending increases in 2012, with total TV media expenditures up 8%. Spending on cable networks rose by 3%, while network TV jumped by 9%, attributable in large part to the Summer Olympics. (Recent data straight from the processing systems of 4 of the major agency holding companies puts broadcast TV spending growth at 10%.)

Ad spending in Spanish Language TV continued its strong rise, up 15% for the year, including a 20% gain in Q4. Despite a 1% drop-off in Q4, syndication TV also saw a healthy 8% increase for the year, while spot TV also gained ground, up 10%.

  • Radio

Radio ad revenues benefited from political spending in Q4, as national spot radio investments grew by 8%, finishing the year up by 3%. Local radio expenditures were flat for the year, while network radio outlays surged by 16%. Overall, radio media ad spend was up 3% for the year, according to Kantar, a higher estimate than the 1% gain estimated by the Radio Advertising Bureau, though both entities agree on radio’s 4% increase in Q4.

  • Print

Print media spending continued to fall last year, with newspapers and magazines experiencing year-over-year declines of 3% and 2%, respectively. Those declines may be seen again this year, as a recent survey of ad agencies sees further cutbacks on the horizon.

According to the Kantar Media report, within magazine media, Sunday magazines and consumer magazines saw the largest declines (-3%), while local magazines inched up 2%. Within newspaper media, national newspapers (-12%) experienced the largest fall.

The Spanish language market performed better-than-average, though: spending on Spanish language magazines jumped by 13%, while expenditures on Spanish language newspapers increased by a more muted 2%.

  • Outdoor, FSIs


While the news wasn’t good for print media, outdoor ads and spending on free-standing inserts both grew by 5% for the year. Outdoor advertising in particular benefited from a re-allocation of local ad spending from radio advertisers not keen to compete with the flurry of political activity in that medium, according to Kantar. That shift caused outdoor ad revenues to receive an 8% boost in Q4.

About the Data: Kantar’s full explanation of its methodology can be found at the link above.


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