U.S. Ad Spend Increased 2% in 2012 On Strong 3Q

U.S. Ad Spend Increased 2% in 2012 On Strong 3Q

Hampered by an historic hurricane and the looming fiscal cliff but buoyed by a presidential election and the summer Olympics, advertisers managed a 2 percent jump on ad spend in 2012 over 2011, according to Nielsen. On a year-over-year basis, advertising expenditures increased 1 percent in the first, second and fourth quarters. The ad-heavy U.S. election and Olympics led to the third quarter’s 7 percent YOY growth, which was the biggest driver of the year’s modest overall annual increase.

Not surprisingly, some advertisers spent more than others as they closed out the year. U.S. auto companies, for example, touted their typical year-end deals and promotions as the year wound down, bringing them into first place for fourth-quarter ad spend. Department stores increased their ad spending as well via holiday sales and doorbusters to bring them up from a fifth-place ranking in the third quarter to the second-place spot in the fourth. The wireless/telecom, fast food restaurants, pharmaceuticals and motion picture categories remained on the top 10 list in the fourth quarter from the third quarter.



The quarterly reports include ad spend across 17 media which is lumped together as follows:

  • Television (Network, Cable, Syndication, Spot, Spanish Lang Network, Spanish Lang Cable)
  • Magazine (National, Local Magazine)Newspaper (National Newspaper, National Sunday Supp, Local Newspaper, Local Sunday Supp)
  • Radio (Network, Spot Radio)
  • Outdoor
  • FSI Coupon
  • National Internet (Display only; Excludes the following sites in the total expenditure –,,, Yahoo! Mail)

Data excludes promos/PSA and local avails. Direct response is included in all spend.