Strong advertising revenue from Olympics and U.S. political ad spending helped deliver a modest U.S. ad gain for 2012 over 2011.
Nielsen says there was a 2% increase in 2012 over 2011 -- with a big 7% gain coming in the third quarter. The third quarter made up for low registering gains in the first, second, and fourth quarter where there were only 1% increases over their comparable periods in 2011. An estimate from Kantar Media says the U.S. advertising market was at $144 billion at the end of 2011.
Advertiser categories had a mixed fourth quarter. U.S. auto companies pushed for their usual end-of-the-year deals and promotions. Auto advertisers inched up 1% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $3.2 billion, according to Nielsen. Auto remains the top U.S. ad revenue spending category.
Phone and wireless advertising spending soared 28% for the fourth quarter, landing at $1.24 billion. Quick-service restaurants also moved up slightly -- 1%, to $1.1 billion. Automotive dealers gained 1% to $966 million; and pharmaceutical ad spending rose 4% to $960 million.
Moving in the other direction, retail ad spending was down 6% to $1.28 billion. Movie picture advertising sank 13% to $821 million, while credit card marketing was more than a third lower in 2012 than in 2011, down 35% to $454 million. Direct-response products/services slipped 3% to $571 million.
Nielsen's ad-spending research came across 17 media -- television (network, cable, syndication, local spot, Spanish-language network, Spanish-language cable), magazine (national, local magazine), newspaper (national newspaper, national Sunday supplement, local newspaper, local Sunday supplement), radio (network, spot radio), outdoor, FSI coupon, and national Internet.