U.S. Ad Economy Expands For Third Consecutive Year: Big, Mid-Tail Advertisers Biggest Factors

Buoyed by big and mid-tail advertisers, the U.S. advertising marketplace expanded for its third consecutive year, albeit at a relatively modest 3% rate of growth, according to estimates released this morning by WPP’s Kantar Media unit. The estimates, which are based on ad placements tracked by Kantar Media, show that mid-size advertisers increased the most, while ad spending by small advertisers was flat.
But the biggest contributor, according to Kantar Media Chief Research Officer Jon Swallen, was the resurgence of ad spending by the biggest advertisers.
Thanks to incremental stimuli such as the Summer Olympic Games and political campaign spending, the total U.S. ad market grew by more than $4 billion. That said, the expiration of those incremental factors slowed the U.S. ad expansion with the fourth quarter growing only 2%.
“Large advertisers also played a significant role,” stated Swallen, adding: “After reducing their media budgets in 2011 as a precaution against slowing economic growth, the top 100 marketers reversed course in 2012 and invested more.”
The top 100 advertisers expanded their ad spending 3% during 2012, while 101-250 increased 7% and those ranked 251-1,000 grew 5%. 
But even among the biggies, the picture was decidedly mixed.
No. 1 advertiser Procter & Gamble cut spending 5% last year, while media and telecommunications giant Comcast surged 10%, catapulting itself into the No. 2 position and replacing AT&T and General Motors, which slashed spending 14% and 7%, respectively. In total, spending by the top 10 advertisers fell 2%.



Year 2012

($ Millions)

Year 2011

($ Millions)

% Change


Procter & Gamble Co





Comcast Corp





General Motors Corp





AT&T Inc.





L'Oreal Sa





Verizon Communications Inc.





News Corp





Toyota Motor Corp





Berkshire Hathaway Inc.





Chrysler Group Llc









Source: Kantar Media

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1 comment about "U.S. Ad Economy Expands For Third Consecutive Year: Big, Mid-Tail Advertisers Biggest Factors".
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  1. david michael rich from George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, March 11, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.

    Interesting data. Even more interesting would be total marketing spend, not just advertising, so we could see if spend is migrating to other marketing channels and whether the total number is up or down.