Magna Global Eyes 6% Rise in U.S. Media Sales

World Cup, political spend will give TV a shot in the arm

Magna Global announced today that it revised its 2014 U.S. advertising forecast slightly upward, eyeing a 6 percent increase in overall media sales, for a total of $168 billion.

The media agency previously had projected a lift of 5.5 percent, to $167.1 billion.

According to Magna, the $900 million swing is a function of an improving macroeconomic outlook and a number of incremental infusions of ad sales dollars tied to one-off events. These include ESPN and Univision’s presentation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics and the mid-term elections.

TV will reap the greatest benefits from these non-recurring events, with ad sales growth of 8.3 percent, to $68.8 billion. Political spending alone is expected to pump as much as $3 billion into the TV marketplace.

The big-ticket events will go a long way toward offsetting what media buyers are characterizing as a tepid first quarter scatter market. Demand may have been tempered by the chilling effect of the Polar Vortex/Neverending Winter of 2013-14, which put the bite on the retail, auto and restaurant sectors.

Magna said it expects demand will gradually pick up in the latter quarters. In addition to the quadrennial soccer tournament and the mid-term elections, TV also will benefit from incremental spending from insurance companies, healthcare institutions and government, in connection with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

“Three elements are combining to generate robust advertising growth in 2014: economic recovery, the usual even-numbered year drivers of political and Olympic spending, and other non-recurring events that will specifically benefit television,” said Vincent Letang, director of global forecasting at Magna.

While digital is on track to grow 14.4 percent—revenue generated by social platforms this year is expected to soar by as much as 45 percent—non-social display formats will be hit by lower demand and a negative pricing dynamic, resulting in stagnant ad sales. The volume of programmatic and automated buying will increase by 38 percent to $11 billion by year's end, accounting for about 60 percent of all display-related digital media transactions.

Last year, digital raked in $42.8 billion in media spend, achieving a market share of 27 percent. It is now a larger segment than national TV ($41.2 billion), but it remains smaller than the overall television universe. (Roll up national and local buys, on broadcast and cable networks, and you're looking at $63.5 billion in ad spend in 2013, good for a 40 percent share of the overall media market.)