Olympics depress US quarterly adspend

17 September 2014

NEW YORK: Total advertising expenditure in the US grew by just 0.7% to $35.6bn in Q2 2014, compared with growth of 5.7% in the first quarter, the latest industry data from Kantar Media has revealed.

Kantar said Olympic advertisers reduced their adspend in Q2 by more than 4% year-over-year, although three major sporting events helped to boost TV adspend by 5%.

"The slow growth rate of ad spending in Q2 is payback for the surfeit of money in Q1 that was pulled forward to fund Olympics budgets," said Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media North America in comments reported by Advertising Age.

In another headline finding, Kantar said Procter & Gamble, the FMCG multinational and the biggest advertiser in the country, cut its adspend by 17.4% to $1.32bn in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2013.

P&G cut spending by almost one-third during Q2, although Kantar noted that the company had an atypically high volume of adspend in Q2 2013.

Indeed, no fewer than four out of the five largest advertisers in the US cut their spending during the first half of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Joining P&G, were telecoms giant AT&T (-9.4% to $917.6m), Comcast, the broadcasting and cable firm (-1.2% to $772.4m), and L'Oreal, the French cosmetics group (-9% to $727.9m).

However, General Motors substantially increased its adspend in the first half by 22.6% to make it the second-largest advertiser in the US at $928.8m.

Other major spenders included Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company (+25.1% to $711.8m), Verizon Communications (+11.4% to $694.1m), Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate (+20.1% to $674.5m) and automakers Toyota (+5.5% to $599.8m) and Fiat (+14.2% to $588.5m).

Overall, the top 100 advertisers increased their adspend by 2.9% in the first half of the year, although the Wall Street Journal emphasised that Kantar's figures covered only traditional media and online display.

Therefore, digital video, paid search and other digital categories may not have been included, it said.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff