Big Events Cause Slight Uptick In 2014 Ad Spend

by Erik Sass, MediaPost

U.S. advertising spending didn’t exactly explode last year, but it wasn’t totally flat either. That’s about the best you can say for 0.7% growth from $140 billion in 2013 to $141.2 billion in 2014, as measured by Kantar Media, which has been tracking ad spend for a number of years.

However, total ad spending dropped 1.6% in the fourth quarter.

The modest growth for the full year was driven primarily by the alignment of the Winter Olympics, World Cup and midterm elections, according to Kantar Media’s chief research officer Jon Swallen.

On that note, TV was the main beneficiary, with total TV ad spending up 5.5% compared to 2013, as cable TV ad spending rose 6.8% and network TV 2.5%. Approximately four-fifths of the increase for network was due to the Winter Olympics. Spot TV spending rose 5.5%, while Spanish-language TV continued its meteoric growth with a 14.7% increase, largely thanks to the World Cup.

This good news was offset by distinctly mediocre results in most other traditional media. Radio advertising slipped 3.9%, according to Kantar, with local radio ads down 5.1%, national spot down 1.2% and network down 3.7%. Outdoor advertising, which has generally defied the downward trend in recent years, was basically flat with a 0.2% drop.

The news in print media was even worse, with magazines’ rate card advertising revenues down 5.1%, thanks to a 4.6% drop in consumer mags, a 2.1% drop in business-to-business, and a 15.2% drop in Sunday (newspaper-distributed) titles. Spanish-language magazines tumbled 12.7%. The sole bright spot was a 1.6% increase for local magazines.

Newspaper ad revenues plunged 10%, with local newspaper ad spending down 11.6%, national newspapers slipping 0.3%, and Spanish-language newspapers down 4.6%.

Turning to ad categories, retail continued to dominate in dollar terms at $15.8 billion, but this represented a 2.1% drop from the previous year. Next up in dollar terms was automotive -- down 6.8% to $14.2 billion -- followed by insurance in third place, up 7.8% to $5.9 billion.

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