It's Official: U.S. Ad Market Expanded In 2023, Albeit A Smidgen

Following a weak first-quarter start, the U.S. ad market expanded for nine consecutive months, ending 2023 with a gain of 0.5% over 2022, according to just-published December estimates from Guideline's U.S. Ad Market Tracker.

The tracker -- which is an index of actual ad spending derived from media buys processed by the major agency holding companies and independent media-services agencies -- may not reflect the total U.S. ad market comprised of small- and medium-sized advertisers and agencies, but it is the most empirical view of actual spending by the major agencies typically considered to be "Madison Avenue."

The tracker ended the year with a December index of 145.7 -- a 2.8% gain over December 2022's 141.8. (The index, reflecting Guideline's core pool of data from all the agencies participating, was set at 100 in 2017.)

Total aggregate spending for all 12 months rose 0.5% over 2022, according to Guideline's analysis of the data.

Most of December's expansion came from smaller advertising categories, which rose about three times the rate of the top 10 categories: +4.5% vs. +1.6%.

In fact, looking back longitudinally over the six years since the index was first benchmarked, while overall ad spending expanded 45.6% over time, ad categories ranked 11 or lower rose 73.3%, while the top 10 increased only 30.4%.

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