Good times ahead for TV ad spending in US, says study

NEW YORK: The total advertising spend in the US has grown 6.8 per cent in the first half of 2003, with some of the strongest gains coming from cable television, nationally syndicated broadcasting and Spanish-language television, according to the ad tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Media reports quoting the study, released last Friday, say that all forms of broadcasting have increased 4.7 per cent to $31.3 billion in the past six months. Print advertising went up 8.6 per cent to $25.9 billion. Internet and outdoor advertising rose 15.3 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively. The total ad expenditures for the first half of the year were $61.7 billion.

"These first-half results are further evidence that the ad recovery is well under way and that 2003 will be a healthy year for the advertising marketplace," CMR president and chief executive Steven Fredericks said of the results.

Cable TV had the largest gain, up 16.7 per cent to $5.7 billion. National syndication rose 15.8 per cent to $1.6 billion, while Spanish-language network TV was up 15.4 per cent to $1.1 billion. Only one category had negative growth - network TV fell 0.4 per cent to $10.3 billion. Flat to moderate growth was experienced by spot TV, local radio and network radio.

However, one analyst stated that though encouraging, the numbers were not particularly helpful to investors in terms of gauging trends in media stocks. "It's all backwards-looking data that's already priced into the stocks," Sanders Morris Harris analyst David Miller has been quoted as saying. He explained, "The markets always look forward, so right now valuations on media stocks, whether it's radio or any other advertising-based business, is reflecting expectations in the bottom half of the year." Still, the report reveals some spending trends.

The top spenders in the first half of 2003 were automotive, packaged goods and entertainment advertisers. General Motors led the spending with a 10.5 per cent increase to $1.3 billion. Two media conglomerates are also among the top 10 spenders. AOL Time Warner spent $965.7 million, 4.8 per cent more than it did last year, while the Walt Disney Co raised its ad spending 19.4 per cent to $632.5 million, the CMR report says.

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