U.S. Ad Economy Contracts 7.3% In February

The U.S. ad economy contracted for the second consecutive month in February, dropping 7.3% from February 2020, according to a MediaPost analysis of data from Standard Media Index's U.S. Ad Market Tracker.

The declines in January and February of this year followed five consecutive months of expansion that ended 2020 and signaled an end to the COVID-19-related recession.

The February 2021 decline is also significant, because it compares with February 2020, which was the last "normal" month before ad budgets retrenched following the declaration of the global pandemic and a variety of related shutdowns in the U.S.

February's declines were influenced more by smaller advertisers than the largest ones, as the top 10 ad categories declined only 3.0% vs. a decline of 13.7% for all other ad categories.

In terms of media, digital continues to be the most resilient, actually posting an 18% gain over February 2020, while the national TV advertising marketplace declined 26.7% year-over-year.

March data will be especially telling, as it will compare with the first month of the 2020 ad recession, which lasted through July 2020.



7 comments about "U.S. Ad Economy Contracts 7.3% In February".
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  1. Robert Williams from MediaPost, March 22, 2021 at 1:40 p.m.


  2. John Grono from GAP Research, March 22, 2021 at 8:15 p.m.

    Robert, Feb 2021 was -7.3% on Feb 2020.   However, Feb 2020 was +9.0% on Feb 2019.   That means that Feb 2021 was up on Feb 2019 which is not a bnad result (and certainly not stellar).

    Plus, London to a brick, March 2021 will be a 'Yikes!' increase on March 2020 as it was down -11.0% on year-ago.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 23, 2021 at 1:10 a.m.

    John, once again, this demonstrates the simple fact that percent change is a misleading "metric" without looking at the actual numerical values that are involved.

  4. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, March 23, 2021 at 8:23 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: Beg to differ. It is not misleading. It is a metric and it's up to analysts to determine the value and meaning of it. Percent changes of market indexes over time are a common method for economic and financial analysts to express market expansion or contraction. It is the way people analyze the direction of the stock market utilizing changes in the Dow or S&P, which is what the U.S. Ad Market Tracker is akin too.

    Also, the absolute values of the index are accessible via the continuous dynamic index at the bottom of every story we publish analyzing it, if anyone wants to analyze the value themselves.

    If not year-over-year percent changes in index value, what do you and Mr. Grono recommend?

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 23, 2021 at 9:20 a.m.

    Joe, I can't speak for John, but my amswer is simple. By all means show a table which has percent change comparisons, however, please include somewhere on the table---I suppose at the bottom of each bar----the total spending in billions of dollars so a lot of people who took the percent change comparisons to mean that the sky had suddenly fallen on U.S. advertising can see that this may not be the case. Surely your source won't mind supplying those added figures in the interests of more complete reporting.

  6. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, March 23, 2021 at 10:09 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: This boilerplate is included at the bottom of every index we've ever published:

    Powered by Standard Media Index's Cross Platform product, the Ad Market Tracker indexes the movement of U.S. advertising investment on a month-to-month basis. Data represented in the index is derived from actual spending by ad agencies representing more than 80% of all U.S. national advertiser investment. Baselined to a value of 100, the index is intended to be a simple way for readers to visualize the supply and demand of ad spending overall, and across the major media.

  7. John Grono from GAP Research replied, March 23, 2021 at 4:45 p.m.

    Joe, my comment was related to Robert's "Yikes!" posting only.

    And as you say it is up to the analysts to determine value and meaning.

    I thought my post was analytical and not critical, and in fact prognosticated that the March data would be a "Yikes!" increase.   So let's see what my good friends at SMI report next month and whether my prognostication is in the ballpark.


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