Nielsen: Global Ad Spend Up 3.1% to $128 Billion

Internet leads channels in growth, lags in share

Between the Olympics and the U.S. presidential election, 2012 is a biggie for brands, so much so that they got out of hibernation early. The first quarter is usually quiet for advertisers, but the period's global ad spend increased by 3.1 percent from last year, according to Nielsen’s Global AdPulse Report released today. The research firm said the year got off to a slow start but hit $128 billion by the end of March, with that month in particular jumping 4.5 percent year-over-year.

The Middle East and Africa led all regions with 23.3 percent year-over-year spend growth, followed by Latin America at 9.6 percent. The U.S. lagged behind with a 2.2 percent increase, which was still better than the situation in Europe. That region—beset by Greece’s and Spain’s financial woes—saw ad spend drop 1.4 percent compared with last year.

Internet advertising grew by 12.1 percent, the most of any media channel, but still only accounted for 2.6 percent of the quarter's total ad spend (equivalent to outdoor advertising’s spend share). Meanwhile TV dollars rose by 2.8 percent and ate up 61.9 percent of total ad spend.

Nielsen’s findings lend new evidence in the debate over print advertising’s decline. While ad spend on magazines fell by 1.4 percent year-over-year, newspapers earned a 3.1 percent increase. But that’s worldwide—Latin America saw magazines and newspapers jump by 7.6 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively—meanwhile in the U.S. magazines dropped by 5.0 percent and newspapers followed with a 2.1 percent decline. Newspapers toppled magazines in terms of ad spend share, with the former notching 20 percent versus the latter’s 7.6 percent.