War Dampens 1Q Ad Spend

NEW YORK The war in Iraq put something of a damper on U.S. ad spending in the first quarter, with expenditures rising 1.5 percent to $21.4 billion, compared with the same time period last year, according to preliminary figures released by Nielsen Monitor-Plus, a unit of Nielsen Media Research.

Still, there were some indications that the industry is beginning to shake off the ad recession, as spending increased in six of the 10 reported media, with growth rates ranging from under 1 percent to over 15 percent. In particular, Nielsen reported that Hispanic television experienced the greatest gain, at 15 percent, while national magazines grew 14 percent, and local newspapers rose almost 9 percent.

Advertising spending declined in four of the reported media, with network TV, cable TV, syndicated TV, and national newspapers each falling about 5 percent, compared with the same period last year.

The report noted that the first quarter of 2003 was at a disadvantage versus the same period last year, because of the Iraq war, which pre-empted a number of television shows and, in turn, commercials. Furthermore, television benefited tremendously in early 2002 from expenditures associated with the Winter Olympics, the report noted.

Expectations for the rest of this year are generally favorable, which Nielsen bases on optimistic predictions coming out of the current network upfront.

Nielsen Media Research is part of the VNU Media Measurement & Information Group. Adweek is owned by VNU.