The U.S. Ad Market Tracker rose 2.5% in May -- the first expansion in 11 months. The expansion compares with the year-ago period that was only up modestly and is the best May since Standard Media Index began tracking it.
The growth is the first material sign that the U.S. ad marketplace is pulling out of a recession that began in July 2022, based on the SMI data, which is derived from a pool of actual ad spending processed by the major agency holding companies and independent media services agencies.
The index differs from the forecasts of the major agency holding companies for U.S. ad spending growth this year, with the current consensus standing at +2.9%, following a series of downgrades by WPP's GroupM, IPG Mediabrands' Magna, and Dentsu's forecasting units.
The holding company forecasts factor more local ad spending and other sources not included in SMI's agency pool.
May's expansion appears to be coming equally from larger and smaller ad categories. The top 10 categories expanded 2.5% in May, while all others rose 2.9%.
Digital media continues to represent an increasing share of total media spending -- rising to 60% this May vs. 56% in May 2022, 51% in May 2021, and 47% in May 2020.