TV Ad Spend Rose 4.5% in ’11; Cable on Par With Network TV

May 9, 2012

nielsen-tv-ad-spend-in2011-may2012.jpgTV ad spend hit $71.8 billion in 2011, representing a 4.5% increase from $68.7 billion in 2010, and 12.7% growth from $63.7 billion in 2009, according to a May 2012 report from Nielsen. Spot TV claimed the largest share of spend, at 32%, while cable TV grew 5.4% year-over-year and network TV declined 0.5% to move them into a virtual spending tie ($21 billion and $21.1 billion, respectively). Spanish language network TV and Spanish language cable TV grew 24% and 16%, respectively, combining to hold almost 6% of total TV spending. The remaining 3.3% share was held by syndicated TV.

A recent Kantar Media report shows different TV spending figures for 2011, but some of the same patterns. For instance, that report indicated that network TV spending decreased by 2% year-over-year, while cable rose 7.7%. In addition, the Kantar Media data showed Spanish language TV spending growing, although by a more modest 8.3% than the Nielsen estimate.

Auto Top Spender

Breaking down the top 10 categories by ad spending across all media, the Nielsen report finds that automotive was easily the leader, at $10.2 billion. Quick service restaurants followed at $4.2 billion, ahead of the pharmaceutical ($3.9 billion), telephone services/wireless ($3.6 billion), automotive dealership ($3.5 billion), and motion picture ($3.5 billion) categories. Also making the top 10 were department stores ($3.4 billion), auto insurance ($1.9 billion), direct response ($1.9 billion), and restaurants ($1.7 billion).

AT&T Top Brand

Examining the top spending brands on English and Spanish language TV, the report indicates that AT&T led the pack at $1.1 billion in ad spending, ahead of Verizon Wireless, at $702.2 billion. There was then another significant drop-off to the next tier of spenders: Geico ($414.8 million); State Farm ($335.7 million); DIRECTV ($326.3 million); and Walmart ($315.6 million). Rounding out the top 10 brands by ad spend were Comcast ($283.2 million), Home Depot ($278.1 million), Dish Network ($265.9 billion), and Allstate ($239.5 million).

Other Findings:

  • Overall, the amount of national TV ad units grew 14% year-over-year in 2011.
  • 47% of all TV commercial lengths were 30 seconds in length, while 34% were 15 seconds, and 9% were 60 seconds. There has been no significant change in this mix since 2009.
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