U.S. advertising spending rebounds in first quarter

Bouncing back from disappointing trends in 2011, total advertising spending in the first quarter of this year inched up 2.6%, compared to the previous year period, according to a new report from Kantar Media.

Expenditures for all media totaled $32.9 billion, Kantar said Monday.

“After a sluggish start in January, the pace of measured ad spending quickly accelerated and grew at an average rate of more than four percent during February and March, the best performance in more than a year,” Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media North America, said in a statement.

“Early figures from the second quarter indicate continued modest growth with improvement trickling down to media that have been lagging the overall advertising market,” Swallen said.


Sports programming on TV provided the catalyst for the first-quarter gains. Spending for cable TV, which included Turner networks’ coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, increased 7.4%. Broadcast networks, which benefited from a strong slate of NFL playoff games, saw a 7% boost in ad revenue compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Comparisons were helped by the calendar. Last year, much of the end of the NCAA tournament occurred in April, whereas this year the bulk of the games on cable were in March.

Another bright spot was Spanish-language TV, where expenditures soared 20.7% due to higher spending by car companies and consumer packaged goods. Other Spanish-language media also showed improvement, including Spanish-language magazines, up 26.5%, while Spanish-language newspapers climbed 4.7%.

Meanwhile, Internet display advertising expenditures dropped 4.1% during the first quarter.

“The overall spending reduction was primarily attributable to fewer display ads appearing on the average web page, with some offset from higher average [rates],” the ad-tracking firm said.


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