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U.S. ad spending stalls in second quarter

September 10, 2012|By Meg James
  • Advertisers spent more than $1.2 billion on ad time during the London Olympics, which should fuel an uptick in ad spending during the current quarter. Above, the Olympics kick off with fireworks.
Advertisers spent more than $1.2 billion on ad time during the London Olympics,… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Advertising spending in the U.S. cooled during the April-through-June quarter, increasing just 0.9% from the year-earlier period to finish at $34.4 billion, according to a new analysis by Kantar Media.

For the first half of the year, ad expenditures for all U.S. media totaled $67.1 billion -- an increase of 1.9% compared with the first six months of 2011, according to Kantar Media, which tracks advertising expenditures.

The second-quarter pull-back could be an unsettling sign. Marketers may be increasingly worried about the sluggish U.S. economy.

However, major advertisers might have been reserving dollars for the London Olympics. The current July-through-September quarter should contain a bump in spending: Companies doled out more than $1.2 billion for ad time during the London Olympics, which were broadcast last month on various NBCUniversal television channels and digital platforms.

"Ad spending growth sputtered during the second quarter and was unable to sustain its early year momentum," Jon Swallen, Kantar Media North America's chief research officer, said in a statement.

"Third-quarter results will get a short-term boost from the Summer Olympics and political advertising, but sustained long-term improvement will probably be linked to the health of consumer spending on goods and services," Swallen said.

The television sector continued to lead the ad market, growing 4.4% in the second quarter, Kantar found. Nearly all the growth was in cable TV, which offered high-profile sporting events. Network TV was off 0.4%, largely because of a shift that saw some key games of the NCAA college basketball tournament broadcast in the first quarter instead of the second quarter.

Ad expenditures for Spanish-language TV jumped 17.8%, and spending on syndicated TV, including talk shows and off-network reruns, grew 10%.

Internet display advertising dropped 5.4% in the second quarter. Print media also suffered as consumer magazine revenue fell 2.6%, local newspapers slid 1.9% and national newspapers experienced a 10.7% decline. Meanwhile, Spanish-language newspapers decreased 2.5%, and Spanish-language magazines saw spending grow 8.9%.

General Motors' spending was particularly noteworthy. Perennially a Top 10 advertiser, GM slashed its second-quarter spend 30.1% to $291.9 million. Kantar said GM's annual rate of marketing spend was at its lowest level in more than a decade.

In contrast, Toyota Motor Corp. geared up with a 22.7% increase in spending, totaling $285 million for the quarter. Last year, Toyota and other Japanese automakers were dealing with the deleterious effects of a huge earthquake and tsunami.


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