US adspend fell 2.6% last year

16 March 2009

NEW YORK: US adspend fell by 2.6% to $136.8 billion (€105.8bn; £97.6bn) in 2008, with almost all major media, including online, posting a decline in revenues. Procter & Gamble remained the country's biggest advertiser, but cut its measured media outlay by nearly a fifth, says The Nielsen Company.

Cable TV posted the highest total revenues last year among the mediums measured by Nielsen, with growth of 7.8% to $26.6bn, with Hispanic cable revenues also rising by 9.6% in 2008.

Television remained the most popular media channel among advertisers, with network, cable, Hispanic and spot TV taking 60% of all advertising revenues.

Despite this, broadcast network TV adspend declined by 3.5%, and spot TV was down by 4.6%, although both mediums fared better than the internet, which saw revenues slide by 6.4% year-on-year.

Expenditure through national newspaper also fell by 9.6%, with local newspapers down by 10.2%, national magazines by 7.6%, while local magazines posted a drop off of 3.7%.

Network radio (–3.3%), spot radio (–4.0%) and outdoor (–5.0%) all similarly posted declines.

The top ten advertisers spent a total of $15.5bn last year, down by 15% on an annual basis, and every company among this group cut their overall outlay.

Procter & Gamble's expenditure through measured media was $2.8bn, compared with $3.5bn in 2007, while General Motors, in second place, slashed its spending by 14.9% to $2.1bn in all.

Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Chrysler, also cut back by 31.2% to $1.0bn, with Ford down 29% to $1.4bn, Toyota by 6.6% to $1.6bn, and Honda by 2.8% to just over $1bn.

Of the rest of the top ten, AT&T reduced its adspend by 7.2% to $1.7bn, while Verizon's budget fell by 1.3% to around $1.6bn.

Johnson & Johnson paired back its total outlay by 5.4% to slightly over $1.2bn, and Time Warner posted a more substantial decline of 23.7% to $1.1bn.

Automotive industry spending as a whole fell 15.5% to $10.0bn for the year, while pharma companies' total expenditure was down by 18.4% to $4.3bn.

Fast-food chains, by contrast, increased their outlay by 3.8% to $4.1bn, with direct response ads up 9.2% to $2.6bn.

In terms of individual companies, Wal-Mart posted one of the biggest overall increases in adspend last year, up by 55% to $771m.

A new report by Barclays Capital also predicts US adspend will by 13% this year, and by 1.5% in 2010.

Online is one of the few mediums predicted to enjoy meaningful growth, up 2.3% this year to a total of $23.7 billion, and by 5.7% to $25bn next year.

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company/Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff