P&G, General Motors cut US adspend levels

10 December 2009

NEW YORK: Procter & Gamble and General Motors were among the major advertisers that made substantial reductions to their US adspend in the first nine months of this year, figures from TNS show.

The research firm, part of WPP Group, has estimated that revenue levels in the world's biggest advertising market fell by 14.7% in the period from January to September, to $90.3 billion (€61.2bn; £55.7bn) overall.

Moreover, the third quarter delivered a decline of 15.4% on an annual basis, to $29.6bn, the sixth successive decrease on this measure.

For the year to September, the ten biggest advertisers paired back their investment by a more moderate 5.9%, to a total of $11.8bn.

Procter & Gamble took the top spot in dollar terms, with an expenditure of $1.9 billion, although this was down by 15.9% year-on-year.

General Motors also recorded a contraction of 15.5%, to $1.35bn, compared with the uptick of 15.7% it registered in the same timeframe in 2008.

News Corp, the sixth biggest advertiser, slashed its outlay by 9.4%, to $947.8m, as did Time Warner, in ninth place, by 10.7%, to $874.5m, and General Electric, off by 12.9%, to $763.6m.

In contrast, Sprint Nextel devoted more resources to this area of its activity, up 51.1%, to $912.8m, a strategy that was also pursued by Pfizer, up 11.9%, to $896.6m.

Overall, automotive was the biggest advertiser category, on $7.5bn, although firms in the ailing industry reined in their advertising budgets by almost a third.

The financial services sector was also down by 23.7%, to $5.7bn, but telecoms was up by 0.4%, to $1.9bn, as was pharma, by 0.6%, to $3.5bn.

With regard to media, online display improved by 7%, while TV saw ad sales slide by 12.1%, including an 11.5% drop for broadcast, 2.9% for national cable, and 2.8% for syndication.

Radio and newspaper revenues both tumbled by over 22%, with magazines plummeting by 19.7%, and outdoor by 16.2%.

Jon Swallen, svp of research at TNS Media Intelligence, argued "the slump has now passed its first anniversary and year-on-year comparisons will become easier in the upcoming months."

"Going forward, the timing, strength and durability of an advertising recovery will ultimately be determined by the way consumer activity rebounds."

“The updated monthly trend line on total advertising expenditures still shows no meaningful improvement through October.”

Data sourced from AdWeek; additional content by Warc staff