The U.S. advertising marketplace contracted 12.7% in July versus the same month a year ago, marking its first double-digit rate of decline since July 2020, according to a MediaPost analysis of data from Standard Media Index's U.S. Ad Market Tracker.
Compared with July 2020, which was the tail-end of the COVID-19 ad recession, the U.S. ad market was up 29.7%.
Smaller ad categories continue to be sustaining ad spending better than the largest ones. While the top 10 ad categories declined 14% in year-over-year ad spending in July, all other categories contracted only 11%.
According to SMI's analysis of its core data, specific categories showed mixed results for July, but overwhelmingly contracting ones.
Other than travel (+28%), apparel (+4%), and retail (+1%), the other categories were all in decline, although consumer packaged goods slid only 0.1%.
The 23% decline in entertainment and media category spending in July is noteworthy, given that it is Hollywood's big theatrical season and conventional wisdom is that its theatrical business has been rebounding. Media also is surprising, given the supposed streaming category marketing war.
Noting that July was the second consecutive month that the major categories reduced their ad spending, SMI's analysts commented:
"The number of growing sectors continued to dwindle, reaching four this month, compared to five last month, and ten in the first quarter 2022 months.
"Travel, apparel & accessories, retail and CPG category groups expanded and sat at peak levels for the month, representing an opportunity for media companies.
"Travel represented the strongest lift year-over-year, a position held every month from April 2021 onward. Travel expenditures have quadrupled vs. 2020