TNS: Media Spending Fell 4.1% in ’08

NEW YORK Spending on measured media fell 4.1 percent in 2008, as a pallid economy and crumbling consumer confidence led to double-digit decreases in newspaper and radio ad sales revenues.

According to a new study from TNS Media Intelligence, media expenditures fell $6 billion year-over-year, to $141.7 billion. In keeping with last fall’s economic collapse, fourth-quarter declines were precipitous, with overall spending falling 9.2 percent versus the prior-year period.

“The ad market . . . was buffeted by a souring economy, deteriorating consumer confidence and weakening corporate balance sheets,” said Jon Swallen, svp, research at TNS. “Preliminary figures from the first quarter of 2009 indicate little change in the health of the overall ad economy, as total spending continues to contract sharply.”

A handful of media categories demonstrated growth in 2008, including online (display), which was up 4.6 percent, marking the weakest full-year results for the Web since 2002. Spending on national syndication (TV) was up 6.5 percent versus 2007, while cable expenditures grew 2.1 percent.

National broadcast declined 0.8 percent, according to TNS, while spot TV was off 2.8 percent.

Print media bore the brunt of the economic meltdown as newspaper spending dropped 11.8 percent on the year, while consumer magazine expenditures were down 7.5 percent. Radio dropped 10.3 percent.

All told, the top 10 advertisers spent a combined total of $17.3 billion on measured media in 2008, a drop of 2.1 percent versus 2007. Procter & Gamble retained its role as the nation’s biggest purchaser of media, investing $3.18 billion in 2008, down 7 percent versus $3.42 billion.

Including P&G, only four of the top 10 spenders pulled back on their media investments last year. AT&T spent 10.4 percent less in 2008, while Time Warner tightened the belt by 20.9 percent. Toyota was the lone automaker to rein in its marketing spend, declining 3.1 percent.

Despite a sharp decline in spending in the fourth quarter, General Motors finished the year having invested $2.23 billion in media, an increase of 11.3 percent versus its 2007 outlay.

Auto dropped 15.4 percent on the year, to $12.8 billion. Domestic automakers slashed their overall ad spend by 21.3 percent, to $5.51 billion, while foreign auto manufacturers dropped 10.3 percent to $7.28 billion.