2015 Ad Market Gets Off To A Positive Start: January Posts 5% Gain, Due Largely To Digital

Although TV advertising revenue remains weak, the U.S. advertising market recorded overall gains for January -- up 5%, largely thanks to still-surging digital ad spending.

Television -- which still commands the largest share of ad dollars, at 59% -- fell 1% in advertising revenues during the month, which SMI says is due to a soft upfront market and weak overall ratings. Hurting the results, CBS moved its highly rated Grammy Awards to February from January.

Prime-time TV advertising revenues were down 15% for the month, with overall TV upfront ad dollars committed to January slipping 6%. Sharply lower TV spending from automotive markets -- down 6% -- and consumer packaged goods companies -- off 5% -- contributed.

At the same time, overall digital spending continued to rise sharply -- up 30% from a year ago. Digital now has a 27% share of overall U.S. advertising dollars, up from a 19% share two years ago.



Looking at specific TV categories, broadcast was down 6% for the month; with cable 5% higher. Cable fared well, due to a strong performance by ESPN -- airing the first ever college football playoffs, which contributed to a 29% hike in its advertising revenues during January.

Spanish-language TV networks were on the upside as well, with SMI saying that Telemundo and Univision each had double-digit-percentage advertising gains in the month.

Strong overall January category improvements came from pharmaceuticals, 18% higher; quick-service restaurants, up 17%; and consumer electronics, 18% more.

Other media categories were mostly down: Magazines were flat versus a year ago; newspapers were off 3%; out-of-home slipped 4%; and radio lost 6%.

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