TNS: First-Half Ad Spend Falls 1.6%

NEW YORK Total measured advertising expenditures during the first six months of 2008 declined by 1.6 percent 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 percent 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. “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 percent; the Internet, up 8 percent; Sunday magazines, ahead 4.8 percent; cable television, up 3.1 percent; and outdoor advertising, up 1.8 percent.

Every other medium was down in ad spending, TNS data showed.

Ad spending on network TV was down 2.4 percent, spot TV ad spending was down 4.4 percent, Spanish-language TV was down 0.1 percent, b-to-b magazines decreased 5.9 percent, local magazines slipped 2.8 percent, local newspapers declined 7.1 percent, national newspaper ad spending was off 9.6 percent, Spanish-language newspapers were down 11 percent, local radio was off 7.5 percent, national spot radio decreased 7.4 percent and network radio was down 3.6 percent.

Looking at specific companies, General Motors’ ad spending in the first half of 2008 was up 12.9 percent to $1.03 billion, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. spent 10.9 percent more on advertising to $728 million. Verizon boosted ad spending in the first half of 2008 by 7.6 percent to $1.1 billion, and PepsiCo increased first-half ad expenditures by 5 percent to $586 million.

The companies showing the largest percentage of first-half ad spending declines were AT&T, down 15.6 percent to $940 million; Johnson & Johnson, down 11.8 percent to $690 million; Time Warner, down 9.2 percent to $717 million; Walt Disney, down 8.8 percent to $601 million; and Procter & Gamble, down 7.9 percent to $1.49 billion.

By category, automotive saw spending decline most in the first half, down 11.2 percent to $6.4 billion, with foreign automaker spending declining by 16.9 percent compared to a decline of 6.3 percent for domestic automakers. Telecom ad spending declined by 8.9 percent to $4 billion and retail declined 4.2 percent to $3.9 billion. Food and candy was up 7.4 percent to $3.1 billion, while restaurant ad spending gained 5 percent to $2.8 percent.

The TNS numbers jibed with Nielsen Monitor-Plus’ figures released last week. Nielsen said ad spending fell 1.4 percent in the first half, with outlays among the top 10 advertisers down almost 6 percent. Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.