Total measured advertising expenditures during the first six months of 2008 declined by 1.6% compared to the same period in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.
But a more ominous sign of possible things to come was second-quarter ad spending, which was down by 3.7% compared to last year, the largest quarterly decline since 2001.
"Advertising expenditures started to contract in March, well before the September turbulence on Wall Street renewed concerns about the health of the economy and possible collateral damage to the ad market," said Jon Swallen, svp-research at TNS, New York. "Second-half results, particularly for television, will be bolstered by the Summer Olympics and political elections.
However, sustained improvement will most likely depend on a turnaround in consumer spending that rejuvenates corporate profits and encourages marketers to expand their advertising efforts."
The largest growth categories in ad spending compared to first-half 2007 were national syndicated TV, which increased 10.2%; the Internet, up 8%; Sunday magazines, ahead 4.8 percent; cable television, up 3.1%; and outdoor advertising, up 1.8%.
Every other medium was down in ad spending, TNS data showed.
Ad spending on network TV was down 2.4%, spot TV ad spending was down 4.4%, Spanish-language TV was down 0.1%, b-to-b magazines decreased 5.9%, local magazines slipped 2.8%, local newspapers declined 7.1%, national newspaper ad spending was off 9.6%, Spanish-language newspapers were down 11%, local radio was off 7.5%, national spot radio decreased 7.4% and network radio was down 3.6%.
Looking at specific companies, General Motors' ad spending in the first half of 2008 was up 12.9% to $1.03 billion, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. spent 10.9% more on advertising to $728 million. Verizon boosted ad spending in the first half of 2008 by 7.6% to $1.1 billion, and PepsiCo increased first-half ad expenditures by 5% to $586 million.
The companies showing the largest percentage of first-half ad spending declines were AT&T, down 15.6% to $940 million; Johnson & Johnson, down 11.8% to $690 million; Time Warner, down 9.2% to $717 million; Walt Disney, down 8.8% to $601 million; and Procter & Gamble, down 7.9% to $1.49 billion.
By category, automotive saw spending decline most in the first half, down 11.2% to $6.4 billion, with foreign automaker spending declining by 16.9% compared to a decline of 6.3% for domestic automakers. Telecom ad spending declined by 8.9% to $4 billion and retail declined 4.2% to $3.9 billion. Food and candy was up 7.4% to $3.1 billion, while restaurant ad spending gained 5 percent to $2.8%.
The TNS numbers jibed with Nielsen Monitor-Plus' figures released last week. Nielsen, whose figures do not include online expenditures, said ad spending fell 1.4% in the first half, with outlays among the top 10 advertisers down almost 6%. Brandweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.