Nielsen: Ad Spend Down 1%

Ad spending was down less than 1 percent for the first nine months of 2008, according to a just released tally by Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

By comparison, Nielsen competitor TNS Media Intelligence last week reported a close to 4 percent dip in ad expenditures for the same period. Nielsen found that spending among the top 10 advertisers was down a combined 4 percent to $12.2 billion.

Nielsen Monitor-Plus found cable TV to be the biggest gainer among media channels (on a percentage basis), with an increase of more than 8 percent in the January to September 2008 period versus the same period a year ago. Network TV was up about 1 percent, while spot TV, which usually posts a big spike in an Olympics and presidential election year, showed a less than 1 percent gain in the top 100 markets.

Biggest losers: local Sunday supplements, down 10 percent, and local newspapers, down almost 9 percent.

Not unexpectedly, Nielsen Monitor-Plus found that automotive had the biggest drop among categories, with an 8 percent decline to about $7.9 billion for the first nine months of the year. Pharma was down 4 percent to about $3.7 billion and local car dealers were down 3 percent to $3.3 billion. On the plus side, direct-response product ads were up 27 percent to $2.1 billion and quick-service restaurants were up 11 percent to nearly $3.3 billion.

Procter & Gamble, the nation’s biggest advertiser, spent 7 percent less in the first three quarters with a total of $2.3 billion. Second-ranked General Motors was down 4 percent in spending to about $1.7 billion. Third-ranked AT&T was down 2 percent to $1.3 billion, although fourth-ranked Verizon was up 10 percent to $1.1 billion.

Mediaweek and Adweek are units of the Nielsen Co.