Automakers Still Biggest Spenders in Ad Industry in 2008

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Includes: F, GM, HMC, PG, T, TM, VZ
by: Seth Gilbert

The overall ad industry was off in 2008. There’s no surprise there. With banks and “big auto” in trouble, there were fewer dollars passed around. New data from Nielsen released Friday quantified the extent of the decline. According to the preliminary data from Nielsen Monitor Plus, 2008 US ad spending was off 2.6 percent. Total spending was down $3.7b to $136.8 billion.

Among Nielsen’s initial findings, by the numbers [click images to enlarge]:

2008 sector ad spending• The bright spot for the year was Cable TV. It showed 7.8% growth in 2008. Hispanic Cable TV was also strong with a 9.6% gain.

• Ad supplements for Sunday newspapers were hit hard. Spending in the sector dropped 11%. National papers were down 9.6%. Local papers saw a 10.2% decline. National Magazines fell 7.6%. Local Magazines dropped 3.7%.

• Internet display ads were off 6.4%. (Pay for click ads, text, search and other performance-based campaigns were not counted in the survey).

• Broadcast network TV ads were off 3.5% but TV generally fared well. In total, 60% of all ad dollars were spent on TV (Network, Cable, Hispanic or Spot TV). The Olympics and election helped buoy that result.

ad category spend 2008• Among the top ten product categories, most saw annual declines (internet spending not included in the survey). Only Quick Service Restaurants and Direct Response Product advertising saw increased spending.

• Among spenders, automakers were still the Daddy Warbucks of the industry. The group spent $10.02b, though that represented a 15.5% drop in spending year over year. Toyota (NYSE:TM), Ford (NYSE:F), Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Chrysler (Cerberus Capital) were all among the year’s top ten spenders. Among automakers, Chrysler cut back its spending the most, shelling out 31% less. Ford cut its spending 29%. GM pulled back 15%.

•Proctor and Gamble (NYSE:PG) was the single largest ad buyer on the year. The company spent $2.85b on ads (down from $3.53b in 2007). General Motors spent $2.1b down from $2.5 to finish second. AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Toyota rounded out the list of the top five spenders.