Ad spending on network TV surged last quarter

Ad spending on network television surged last quarter while other traditional media and digital outlets were hit by year-end belt tightening, according to a study issued Monday, one of several this week that will dissect the health of the 2011 advertising market.

The figures may validate a cautious optimism by network execs so far this year even as the latest Q4 and full-year 2011 stats from ad tracking firm Kantar Media shows a fuzzy overall picture for total U.S. ad spending.

Network TV saw spending jump 7.7% in the last three months of the year. However, total U.S. ad spend dipped 1%, the first quarterly decline since the end of 2009. Overall growth has declined for five consecutive quarters since a post-recession peak in the third quarter of 2010 — notnot the kind of numbers showbizzers want to see as the summer upfront advertising selling season approaches.

Broadcast networks were helped by strong pricing for football, a World Series that went to seven games, and the launch of “The X Factor” on Fox, Kantar said.

Spanish language television was on fire — up 19% in the quarter and 8.3% for the year.

Cable growth slowed to 2.4% as higher demand from restaurants and retailers was offset by cuts in consumer packaged goods.

The figures were flipped for the full year when network TV fell 2% and cable rose 7.7%.

Spending on so-called mature digital media formats fell in the fourth quarter with paid search budgets down 6.4% year-on-year and display spending down 5.9%. It’s a move that “bears watching as 2012 unfolds,” said Jon Swallen, senior veep of research at Kantar North America. He questioned whether it was a one-off event or a sign of digital dollars moving toward emerging, unmeasured digital platforms.

Search was hit by lower financial, insurance and local service advertisers, and display was hampered by reduced coin from automakers, telecom providers and the travel biz. For the full year, paid search declined 2.8% and display rose 5.5%.

Syndication, benefitting from higher spending by department stores and health and beauty brands, saw spending soar 11% percent in the fourth quarter and 15.4% for the year.

Spending on local TV fell 8.7% in the fourth quarter despite easy comps in November and December against diminished post-election volume of a year ago. It was down 4.5% for the year.

Consumer magazines, flat year-on-year, took a hit in the fourth quarter, falling 5.2% on cuts in auto, food and pharmaceutical advertising.

Local newspaper ad spend fell about 3.9% for the quarter and the year.

Local radio was down 3.8% for the quarter. National spot radio plummeted 13.9% on reduced outlay from telecom, financial service and autos. Network radio spending was up 4.3% for the quarter and 2.7% for the year.

Procter & Gamble was the top advertiser for the ninth year running with spending of about $3 billion, down 5.4%. P&G’s 2011 budget saw share gains for magazines at the expense of TV, Kantar said.

AT&T, the second largest advertiser at $1.9 billion, spent nearly 12% less after an aborted takeover of T-Mobile.

Verizon Communications was also down about 12% for the year at $1.6 billion, although spending was up in the fourth quarter.

Of the top 10 advertisers, Chrysler’s spending rose 36% to $1.2 billion.

In contrast, General Motors spent 16% less for the year and 25% less for the quarter.

Among media advertisers, Comcast’s spending rose 11% to $1.6 billion; Time Warner was up 5.8% to $1.3 billion; News Corp. spending dropped 14% to $1,17 billion.

Blurb boom

TV ad spending was resilient in Q4 and full-year 2011. Below is % change.

Q4Full year Total TV3.12.4 Cable2.47.7 Network7.7-2.0 Local-8.7-4.5 Spanish lingo19.18.3 Syndication11.015.4

Source: Kantar Media

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