America’s beleaguered ad industry may be on the road to recovery, judging by a new study from VNU-owned Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Aggregated adspend in eight media categories edged up 1.8% in this year’s first quarter to $17.3 billion (€18.8bn; £11.9bn), rising from $17bn in Q1 2001. However, the study excludes sectors such as national newspapers and outdoor.

But any sign of an upturn is good news after spend tumbled nearly 10% in 2001. Much of Q1’s rise was attributed to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Network television enjoyed the biggest revenue increase in the survey, up 9.2% year-on-year to $5.3bn – news that may make the big networks less willing to offer hefty discounts in the ongoing upfront negotiations over ad sales for the new season.

Also on the up were spot TV (+1.9%) and spot radio (+5.1%). However, hard times persist for syndicated TV (down 8.9% to $734.8 million) and national magazines (down 5.4% to $2.7bn).

Fuelling the rise in ad revenues was a 10% increase in spend by auto firms to $1.9bn, a 35% jump in movie advertising to $663.6m and a 37% surge in beer expenditure to $250.4m. However, the hitherto rapid growth of prescription drug advertising braked sharply in Q1, registering a mere 1% increase to $614.2m.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff