U.S. Ad Volume Expands In May, Digital Exodus Continues

The U.S. advertising marketplace expanded in May after a dip in April, following a seasonal pattern that has held steady for the past several years. If the seasonal pattern continues, total ad volume should see relative declines this month and through the summer before it builds again heading into the fall when many major categories begin seasonal marketing pushes.

The data, which can be interacted with dynamically by scrolling over the accompanying U.S. Ad Market Tracker, is based on actual media buys processed by Standard Media Index representing more than 80% of spending from the major agency holding companies.

On a year-over-year basis, however, May’s total ad volume slid 2% from May 2014, which may indicate part of a broader, long-term shift toward non-traditional sources of marketing spending. In fact, “digital” media spending expanded the most on a year-over-year basis, rising 24% over May 2014.

Digital’s expansion appears to support recent pronouncements and speculation that marketers may have hit an inflection point and are beginning to shift budgets from traditional media, especially television. TV ad volume declined 5% from May 2014, as did SMI’s “Top 50” media company composite, much of which includes big media companies that are heavily invested in television.



Within digital, programmatic was one of the fastest-growing sectors, with ad exchanges and ad networks expanding 33% over May 2014. But the fastest growing sector continues to be social, which expanded 59% year-over-year, partly due to more programmatic trading via Facebook’s exchange.

Some of TV’s erosion likely is mitigated by a corresponding expansion of digital video ad volume, which grew 29% in May 2014.

4 comments about "U.S. Ad Volume Expands In May, Digital Exodus Continues".
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  1. Claudio Marcus from FreeWheel, June 17, 2015 at 9:14 a.m.

    While the Index is useful, it would be helpful to report the baseline number for Total, TV and Digital, so as to understand the relative amount of growth. In addition, as TV evolves to include TV content viewed via online video, and various digital TV platforms (such as streaming VOD or network DVR), it will become necessary to redefine just what goes into the TV vs. Digital categories, as traditional TV will likely continue to decrease just as advanced TV begins to grow at an accelerated rate.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., June 17, 2015 at 9:20 a.m.

    Claudio: We agree. Unfortunately, we are not able to access total volume data, because of our agreement with SMI, which is pooling this data direct from agencies' systems. But I think we can access market share data by medium, which is probably the next best proxy. I'll see if I can get that now and update the story with that ASAP.

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., June 17, 2015 at 10:01 a.m.

    Claudio: This will be updated in the story later, but just to answer your question as best we an at the moment, here's how the market shares looked in May for total media category volume bought through those agencies: TV = 54.9%, Digital = 30.1%.

  4. Claudio Marcus from FreeWheel, June 17, 2015 at 12:27 p.m.

    Joe, thanks for the prompt attention. As usual, you are on top of your game.

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