Updated: First 4 Months Signals Mixed 2019 Ad Market, Question Marks For Upfront Demand

Market share winners and losers have begun to emerge during the first four months of 2019, and they don't necessarily follow a digital divide.

Google jumped to Madison Avenue's No. 1 supplier from No. 3 during the first four months of 2018, reversing positions with NBC Universal, whose networks televised the 2018 Winter Olympic Gains.

Editor's note: This article has been updated from previous version that incorrectly reported this data as volume growth, not ad budget shares, due to a labeling issue. Additionally, new analysis has been published here.

The data, which is being released this morning by Standard Media Index, is based on a compilation of actual media buys processed by the major agency holding companies' buying organizations. It doesn't necessarily reflect smaller independents or the "long-tail" of the media-buying marketplace.



But based on big agencies -- and the big clients they represent -- the market-share growth appears to be highly stratified so far in 2019, an "off-year" between biannual Olympic and election spending cycles.

"Of concern to the U.S. ad marketplace is sharp hesitation -- maybe hiccup -- in digital spending," SMI notes in one of its first longitudinal analyses of the U.S. ad marketplace. "Major marketers have limited their incremental investments in search to a tiny +1.6% growth level through the first four months of 2019. This is down from double-digit growth through the same point in 2018, and strong growth for search for years broadly."

The analysis also reveals a mixed bag of market demand from top advertising categories heading into the 2019-20 upfront buying season.

According to SMI's upfront vs. scatter market-share analysis, the top two categories -- consumer packaged goods and financial services -- are signaling lower demand in the scatter market, as are other biggies, such as pharmaceuticals, automotive, restaurant and retail.

Categories exhibiting higher scatter demand include technology, entertainment/media, general business, wellness and travel.

"This could be a fascinating upfront season as long-term upfront marketers, particularly low-base CPG brands, may face a tough environment," SMI writes. "Supply losses have been so significant that media owners may move away from tiering low-base brands to allowing only a small portion of their intended commitments. Sell-out levels, too, are in question with significant scatter premiums likely awaiting the marketplace."

4 comments about "Updated: First 4 Months Signals Mixed 2019 Ad Market, Question Marks For Upfront Demand".
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  1. Jon Swallen from Kantar Media, June 10, 2019 at 1:02 p.m.

    seems odd that SMI is reporting 9% growth in NBC Universal ad revenue as compared to a period that included the Feb 2018 Winter Olympics. FWIW, NBCU's financial filings for Jan-Mar 2019 report a 35% deline in ad revenue year-over-year.

  2. Bill Hague from Magid, June 12, 2019 at 1:46 p.m.

    What are the reactions from the local TV station community? I feel like you've only told half the story. Thx!

  3. James Fennessy from SMI replied, June 13, 2019 at 4:55 p.m.

    Apologies for the delay in replying Jon as I have been travelling. The table above is actually share, not growth, and I believe Joe will be correcting this soon. Best, James.

  4. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., June 14, 2019 at 8:21 a.m.

    @Jon Swallen: Apologies for the confusion. It was due to a labeling issue, but we've corrected this original story and published an additional one analyzing the year-over-year share shifts. -- Joe


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