TNS: Q1 Ad Market Down 14.2%

No matter which research service is crunching the numbers, the advertising market took a big fall in first quarter. According to data released Wednesday (June 10) by TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks ad spending across 19 media segments, advertising plummeted 14.2 percent to $30.18 billion.

The TNSMI figures were more bleak than those provided earlier in the week by rival ad tracking service, Nielsen Monitor-Plus, which reported advertising down 12 percent to $27.9 billion.

In some media segments, the two services reported quite different results. For spot radio, Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported a 9 percent drop to TNSMI’s 31.7 percent drop. TNSMI reported a 14.6 percent decline in outdoor while Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported a 10.7 percent decline. Some of the differences can be explained by how each service defines the media segment. TNSMI reported a 27.5 percent drop in spot TV, but the figure did not include Spanish-language spot TV data. Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported a 15.6 percent drop in spot TV. Measuring activity on the Internet is always tricky, and Nielsen Monitor-Plus tracked a 3.4 percent decline, while TNSMI tracked an 8.2 percent increase.

Both services’ estimates tended to agree closely on the performance of cable and network TV, but not syndicated TV. Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported an 18.8 percent drop, while TNSMI reported a 0.2 percent increase in national syndication.

There’s been a lot of talk about a bottoming out in the ad market, but John Swallen, senior vp of research for TNSMI, doesn’t see much improvement for second quarter. “While there are hopeful signs of general economic indicators bottoming out, the advertising sector still appears to be lagging behind. Available data from second quarter shows ad expenditures tracking on a comparable plane to recent months,” Swallen said.

With the exception of national TV syndication, which inched up 0.2 percent, and the Internet display advertising, which grew 8.2 percent, all media segments reported by TNSMI took hits.

Local media suffered the most, dropping 25.4 percent in the quarter. Spot TV was down 27.5 percent; local newspapers dropped 25.1 percent; local radio sank 26.8 percent; and outdoor declined 14.6 percent.

National media fared better, collectively down 8.5 percent compared to a year ago. However, performance varied greatly between the media, with network TV (down 4.2 percent) and cable (down 2.7 percent) holding up better than national spot and network radio (down 31.7 percent and 11.2 percent), national newspapers (down 28.5 percent) and magazines (down 20.5 percent).

There was no surprise that the automotive category fell significantly, down 28.4 percent to $2.3 billion in first quarter, with manufacturers spending 15.7 percent less and dealers spending 48.9 percent less, taking a bite out of local media.

The nation’s top 10 advertisers collectively cut budgets by 5.7 percent in first quarter to just over $4 billion. Procter & Gamble, the nation’s top advertiser, spent 17.8 percent less to $674.1 million.

Four advertisers spent more in first quarter, including Verizon Communications, the nation’s second largest advertiser, which spent $577.1 million representing a 3.1 percent increase. Johnson & Johnson upped its budget by 28.9 percent to $397.2 million. Sprint Nextel grew its budget by 30.3 percent to $317.7 million. General Electric spent 4.1 percent more to $261.4 million.