Powered by TV, US Media Spend Up 5% in Q1, Kantar

U.S. media outlets in Q1 2010 notched their first quarterly gain in two years, as total ad expenditures rose 5.1 percent to $31.3 billion, according to a new assessment from Kantar Media.
 
In what may be perceived as yet another sign that the media economy has crawled back from the abyss, gains were secured across 13 of the 19 media platforms tracked by Kantar, with some of the most impressive rallies coming from the world of television.
 
All told, TV spend in Q1 ’10 increased 10.5 percent to $16.4 billion, up from $14.8 billion in the year-ago period. On a volume basis, national broadcast improved 11.6 percent to $6.53 billion, while cable spend was up 8.2 percent to $4.48 billion.
 
Broadcast got a lift from the influx of Winter Olympics dollars, per Kagan analysis, while cable was the beneficiary of increased demand from the CPG and retail categories.
 
Lifted by increased auto, retail, financial services and political spend, spot TV grew 22 percent in the quarter to $3.39 billion. Spanish language TV grew 7.3 percent to $1.02 billion.
 
In the overarching TV category, only syndication showed weakness, as business dropped 13.2 percent to $954.2 million.
 
TV remained the most robust medium, accounting for 52.6 percent of all domestic ad dollars.
 
Magazines continued to struggle, as consumer pubs dropped 3.9 percent to $4.02 billion, while trade titles fell 8.4 percent to $624.1 million. Sunday magazines enjoyed a 13.7 percent lift, taking in $423.9 million in ad sales revenue, while local magazines were down 7.1 percent to $62.4 million.
 
All told, magazine business in Q1 declined 3.2 percent to $5.16 billion, down from $5.33 billion in the prior-year period.
 
Newspapers were a mixed bag as local dailies fell 5.6 percent to $3.63 billion, a decline that was only slightly offset by a 9.1 percent turnaround at the nationally distributed papers ($591.4 million). Spanish language publications grew 4.5 percent to $60.9 million. In aggregate, newspaper media saw ad sales drop 3.7 percent to $4.28 billion.
 
Internet display ad spending rose 5 percent to $2.24 billion.
 
After a three-year slump, radio rebounded, as the medium boosted ad sales dollars 7.4 percent to $1.72 billion. Local radio was up 4.6 percent to $1.11 billion, national spot soared 19 percent to $396.8 million and network radio improved by 3 percent versus Q1 ’09, taking in $215.7 million.
 
Outdoor dipped less than 1 percent (0.4) to $783.4 million, off the pace from $786.8 million a year ago.
 
Free-standing inserts were up 12.8 percent to $580.6 million.
 
As is self-evident, improvement in the ad market was largely a function of increased commitments from marketing’s upper echelon. Per Kantar, expenditures for the 10 largest advertisers jumped 10.6 percent in Q1 to $4.34 billion.
 
Top dog Procter & Gamble upped its ad spend 17.7 percent to $772.6 million, an increase from the $656.5 million the company laid out in the first quarter of 2009. Per Kantar, P&G continues to shift money from TV to magazines.
 

Locked in a war with telecom rival Verizon, AT&T increased its quarterly ad spend by 26.7 percent to $576.4 million. (A fair amount of that outlay was tied to NBC Universal’s coverage of the Winter Games.) Meanwhile, No. 4 Verizon scaled back a bit, reducing its total expenditures by 9.1 percent to $517.2 million. Per Kagan, both companies continued to allocate more resources to promote their TV service products as they try to woo subscribers from cable and satellite operators.
 
General Motors pulled up at No. 3 on the list, lifting its ad spend 28.5 percent to $533.7 million. That figure accounts for more than one-quarter of all automotive spend in Q1.
 
Rounding out the top five, pharma giant Pfizer upped its quarterly spend by a whopping 46.2 percent. In one of its final campaigns behind the top-selling subscription brand Lipitor––the patent on the cholesterol-lowering drug expires in June 2011––Pfizer spent $396.4 million in measured media, up from $271.1 million a year ago.
 
Overall, automotive held its ground as the most spend-happy category, as manufacturers and dealers revved up their spend by 18.6 percent to $3.02 billion.
 
Telecom was No. 2 on Kantar’s list, increasing ad spend 10.6 percent to $2.28 billion, while financial services took the bronze with a $2.03 billion outlay (up 10.1 percent).
 
“With the economy turning from recession towards growth, marketers appear to be more confident about a pickup in consumer activity and have increased ad budgets to support their brands,” said Jon Swallen, senior vp, research at Kantar Media.

While some media sectors enjoyed a greater lift than others, Q1 spending hikes “were broadly distributed across advertisers and categories, and that’s an encouraging signal for the market going forward.”