TNS Media Intelligence Reports U.S. Advertising Expenditures Declined 14.2% in First Quarter 2009

NEW YORK – Total measured advertising expenditures in the opening quarter of 2009 plunged 14.2 percent versus a year ago, to $30.18 billion, according to data released by TNS Media Intelligence, the leading provider of strategic advertising and marketing information. This follows a 9.2 percent decline in Q4 2008 as the advertising recession accelerated in the new year.

“The ad market declined significantly in the first quarter, overtaken by a collapsing economy which prompted consumers and marketers alike to shut their wallets and conserve,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research at TNS Media Intelligence. “While there are hopeful signs of general economic indicators bottoming out, the advertising sector still appears to be lagging behind. Available data from second quarter shows ad expenditures tracking on a comparable plane to recent months.”

“Given the struggling economy and the historic challenges being faced by key industry sectors such as automotive and financial services, and certain media categories, a decline in Q1 ad expenditures, while significant, is not wholly unexpected,” said Dean DeBiase, CEO, TNS Media. “But as has traditionally been seen in recessionary periods, some sectors and brands are approaching a depressed marketplace as an opportunity to gain share and are increasing spending accordingly. The advertising industry, too, while struggling, is understanding this is a period for innovation and we are seeing efforts to reboot their approach through the advent of new technologies and tools such as addressable advertising, and the first steps to integrating ad measurement in a synergistic manner across all media platforms.”

Ad Spending By Media

Local media suffered most with aggregate expenditures sinking 25.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009. The rate of decline was similar across Spot TV (-27.5 percent), Local Newspapers (-25.1 percent) and Local Radio (-26.8 percent). Each of these segments was ravaged by deep spending cutbacks in core categories such as automotive, retail and local services.

For national media, combined ad spending fell 8.5 percent versus a year ago. Within this segment, performance was sharply defined along the lines of print versus television versus online.

National Newspapers (-28.5 percent), B-to-B Magazines (-25.5 percent), Consumer Magazines (-19.2 percent) and other print media were clustered on one track and their revenue declines were driven by fewer ad pages.

Network TV (-4.2 percent), Cable TV (-2.7 percent) and Syndication (+0.2 percent) occupied a middle tier and each of these saw business improve slightly at the end of the quarter, paced by Motion Picture and Restaurant category spending. At an exclusive upper level, Internet display expenditures grew 8.2 percent as telecom, travel and local retail advertisers expanded their online marketing programs.

Percent Change in Measured Ad Spending:

Q1 2009 vs. Q1 2008 1


  • Media Type

(shown in rank order of 2009 spending)

  • Network TV


  • Cable TV
  • Spot TV 2
  • Syndication – National
  • Spanish Language TV
  • Consumer Magazines
  • B-to-B Magazines
  • Sunday Magazines
  • Local Magazines
  • Spanish Language Magazines
  • Newspapers (Local)
  • National Newspapers
  • Spanish Language Newspapers
INTERNET (display ads only) 8.2%
  • Local Radio 5
  • National Spot Radio
  • Network Radio
OUTDOOR -14.6%
FSIs 6 -0.2%
TOTAL -14.2%

Source: TNS Media Intelligence

1. Figures are based on the TNS Media Intelligence Stradegy™ multimedia ad expenditure database across all TNS MI measured media, including: Network TV; Spot TV (135 DMAs); Cable TV (67networks); Syndication TV; Hispanic Network TV (4 networks); Consumer Magazines (226 publications); Sunday Magazines (7 publications); Local Magazines (24 publications); Hispanic Magazines (19 publications); Business-to-Business Magazines (362 publications); Local Newspapers (148 publications); National Newspapers (3 publications); Hispanic Newspapers (48 publications); Network Radio (5 networks); Spot Radio; Local Radio (32 markets); Internet; and Outdoor. Figures do not include public service announcement (PSA) data.

2. Spot TV figures do not include Hispanic Spot TV data.

3. Magazine media includes Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) data and reflect print editions of publications.

4. Newspaper media figures reflect print editions of the publications.

5. Local Radio includes expenditures for 32 markets in the U.S.

6. FSI data represents distribution costs only.

Ad Spending by Advertiser

The top 10 advertisers in the first quarter of 2009 spent a combined total of $4,019.5 million, a 5.7 percent decline from last year. Across the top 100 companies, a more diversified group of marketers representing nearly one-half of total ad expenditures, spending fell by 8.1 percent. The sharpest reductions occurred further down the rankings among the long tail of small advertisers who collectively account for the last one-fifth of total industry spending. Media outlays among this fragmented group tumbled 22.3 percent, a reflection of their sensitivity to economic and business conditions.

Procter & Gamble, despite slashing expenditures 17.8 percent, remained the country’s largest advertiser with $674.1 million in spending. The company pared TV allocations by nearly 30 percent across its broad portfolio of brands while leaving magazine budgets untouched.

Johnson & Johnson was the only other packaged goods marketer in the top 10 and it quietly increased total ad expenditures by 28.9 percent, to $397.2 million, its highest level of quarterly spend in two years.

Among the wireless telecommunication providers, Sprint Nextel aggressively hiked its spending by 30.3 percent, to $317.7 million, primarily to promote a new bundled value plan. Verizon Communications raised expenditures by 3.1 percent to $577.1 million while rival AT&T registered a small decline of 1.2 percent, to $459.4 million.

General Motors burned through $424.2 million of ad expenditures in the quarter, a 19.1 percent drop from a year ago but a smaller rate of decrease than most of its competitors.

Top Ten Advertisers: Q1 2009 vs. Q1 20081

Rank Company

Jan-Mar 2009


Jan-Mar 2008


% Change
1 Procter & Gamble Co $674.1 $820.0 -17.8%
2 Verizon Communications Inc $577.1 $559.8 3.1%
3 AT&T Inc $459.4 $465.1 -1.2%
4 General Motors Corp $424.2 $524.6 -19.1%
5 Johnson & Johnson $397.2 $308.2 28.9%
6 News Corp $341.2 $404.6 -15.7%
7 Sprint Nextel Corp $317.7 $243.7 30.3%
8 Walt Disney Co $303.7 $337.0 -9.9%
9 Time Warner Inc $263.4 $348.5 -24.4%
10 General Electric Co $261.4 $251.0 4.1%
Total $4,019.5 $4,262.6 -5.7%

1 Figures do not include FSI, House Ads or PSA activity.

Ad Spending by Category

The Top 10 advertising categories in the first quarter of 2009 spent a combined $16,735.6 million, down 13.6 percent from a year ago. The aggregate drop was skewed by the reduction in auto category expenditures, which nose-dived 28.4 percent to $2,309.0 million. Auto manufacturer spending was off 15.2 percent and dealer advertising was down a stunning 48.9 percent, paralleling a 38 percent decline in new vehicle sales during the period.

Only two top categories registered spending increases. Telecom expenditures rose 3.0 percent and reached $2,078.1 million with gains occurring across major wireless, cable and satellite TV providers. Restaurant ad budgets were up 2.5 percent to $1,415.5 million, paced by quick service establishments.

On the down side, Financial Services shed more than $400 million of spending and finished the quarter at $1,968.4 million, down 18.1 percent. Reductions were most prominent among loan products (-67.9 percent), credit cards (-41.0 percent) and retail banking (-20.7 percent). Other notable double-digit declines occurred among Local Services (-14.7 percent, to $1867.0 million), Direct Response (-17.4 percent to $1,635.8 million) and Travel & Tourism (-14.3 percent, to $1,140.4 million).

Top Ten Advertising Categories: Q1 2009 vs. Q1 2008

Rank Category

Jan-Dec 2009


Jan-Dec 2008


% Change
1 Automotive $2,309.0 $3,224.7 -28.4%
  • (Manufacturers)
($1,665.2) ($1,964.2) -15.2%
  • (Dealers)
($643.9) ($1,260.5) -48.9%
2 Telecom $2,078.1 $2,017.8 3.0%
3 Financial Services $1,968.4 $2,402.4 -18.1%
4 Local Services $1,867.0 $2,188.0 -14.7%
5 Direct Response $1,635.8 $1,980.1 -17.4%
6 Miscellaneous Retail 1 $1,575.1 $1,929.8 -18.4%
7 Food & Candy $1,500.8 $1,605.6 -6.5%
8 Restaurants $1,415.5 $1,381.1 2.5%
9 Personal Care Products $1,245.5 $1,318.4 -5.5%
10 Travel & Tourism $1,140.4 $1,331.4 -14.3%
Total $16,735.6 $19,379.4 -13.6%

Source: TNS Media Intelligence

Note: Figures do not include FSI or PSA activity. The sum of the individual categories may differ from the total due to rounding.

1 Miscellaneous Retail does not include these retail segments: Department Stores, Home Furnishing & Appliance Stores

Branded Entertainment

TNS Media Intelligence continuously monitors Branded Entertainment within network prime time and late night programming. The tracking identifies Brand Appearances and measures their duration and attributes. Given the short length of many Brand Appearances, duration is a more relevant metric than a count of occurrences for quantifying and comparing the gross amount of brand activity that viewers are potentially exposed to in the program versus in the commercial breaks.

In the first quarter of 2009, an average hour of monitored prime time network programming contained 10 minutes, 35 seconds (10:35) of in-show Brand Appearances and 13:54 of network commercial messages. The combined total of 24:29 of marketing content represents 41 percent of a prime-time hour.

Unscripted reality programming had an average of 19:16 per hour of Brand Appearances as compared to just 5:31 per hour for scripted programs such as sitcoms and dramas. Late night network talk shows averaged 11:30 per hour. The combined load of Brand Appearances and network ad messages in these shows reached 29:40 per hour, or 49 percent of total programming time.

Brand Appearances vs. Advertising: Q1 2009

(minutes:seconds per hour)





Prime Time Network 10:35 13:54
Unscripted Programs 19:16 14:43
Scripted Programs 5:31 13:26
Late Night Network

(Kimmel, Leno, Letterman)

11:30 18:10

Source: TNS Media Intelligence

1 Figures include network advertisements, station promotions and PSAs. Local commercial time is excluded.

Among all monitored network programming during the period, The Biggest Loser: Couples had the highest average volume of Brand Appearance time at 48 minutes, 5 seconds (48:05) per hour. Rounding out the top five were Hell’s Kitchen (43:00); American Idol (40:49); Chopping Block (38:54); and Knight Rider (32:10).

About TNS Media

Established in more than 30 countries, TNS Media explores all media – print, radio, TV, Internet, social media, cinema and outdoor worldwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers a full range of insights, analyses and audience measurement services.

TNS Media combines the deepest expertise in the industry to provide media and marketing intelligence including advertising expenditure monitoring, advertising creation monitoring, audience measurement, market influence analytics, online consumer behavior tracking, news monitoring, sports sponsorship evaluation and more. The TNS Media companies track more than 3 million brands and provide vital market intelligence to 16,000 customers around the world. For further information, please visit

About Kantar Group and TNS

The Kantar Group is one of the world’s largest research, insight and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of more than 20 specialist companies – including the recently-acquired TNS – the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and actionable insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 80 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit