When A Surge In Retail Ad Spending Is A Negative Leading Indicator

Sometimes a picture -- or at least a good eye chart -- tells a story better than a bunch of trade reporter's words. That's why I'm featuring two charts from Standard Media Index's analysis of its most recent monthly data on U.S. ad spending.

The one above illustrates how monthly spending patterns have normalized since the 2020 COVID-19 ad recession.

And while this past June was the first month to recede since the ad industry pulled out of recession in March 2021, that's not surprising, given the relative increase from two years earlier.

The chart below illustrates the spending patterns for the most recent month for the top product categories -- which, with the exception of rebound categories like travel, retail, restaurants and apparel, are mainly underwater.

"June 2022 marked the first month this year that the majority of product category groups reduced ad spend," SMI's analysts note in their June analysis, noting that the one "bright spot" for the month is retail. But even that could be a harbinger for a recession -- or at least hyper inflation -- if you look deeper into the category:

"With rising consumer prices, discount store marketers sought the attention of value shoppers," they explained, adding, "The sector quadrupled investment year-over-year, countering declines across all other retail subcategories."

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