Nielsen: First Half Ad Market Grows 5.1%

Large spending jumps on the Internet and Spanish-language TV propelled overall 5.1 percent growth in U.S. ad spending for the first half of 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Internet ad spending leaped 49 percent, compared to the first half of 2005, while spending on Spanish-language TV (helped by the World Cup) rose 21.8 percent. Local magazines followed at 10.4 percent growth--then national newspapers at 6.5 percent, network TV at 6.3 percent and outdoor at 6 percent.

Cable TV continued its much-discussed slowdown with only a .4 percent gain. Another limping sector, network radio, showed a 3.5 percent decline.

Spot TV has also been a slow-growth arena--but perhaps spurred by the Olympics and political races, spending in the top-100 DMAs increased 3.5 percent. Dollars dropped .6 percent in the remaining DMAs (101-210).

Among the top 10 advertisers, half reduced spending in the first six months of 2006--including overall No. 1 GM, down 3 percent to $1.7 billion and DaimlerChrysler, even with its visible Dr. Z campaign, dropped spending 13 percent to $723 million. Surprisingly, struggling Ford (with a "Bold Moves"/Kelly Clarkson/"American Idol"-inspired effort) upped spending by 7 percent to $1.2 billion.

The largest increases came in the telecommunications field, with AT&T leading the pack with a 51 percent jump to $964 million on the back of its "new AT&T" introductory campaign. Verizon followed with a 33 percent jump to $706 million.

All leading categories also grew, except local auto dealerships, which dropped 4 percent to $2.5 billion.

Other cuts came from Johnson & Johnson, which sat out the summer network upfront and reduced spending 22 percent to $656 million. The Altria Group was down 5 percent.

Product placement produced few surprises with "American Idol," "The Apprentice" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" displaying the most "brand occurrences." "Idol" got the most by far: 4,086.

The leading brand was Coke (with prominent appearances on "Idol"), with 3,233 occurrences.

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