US ad spend fell 12% in Q1


The Nielsen Company reported U.S. advertising for Q1 was down 12% compared to the Q1 2008. Preliminary figures show that U.S. ad expenditures declined $3.8 billion to a total spend of $27.9 billion in Q1. All measured media showed negative growth in this difficult economy, ranging from Spanish-Language Cable TV (-1.1%) to Local Sunday Supplements (-37.7%).

Spot Radio was down 9% and Network Radio was down 12.6%. Network TV, the largest media category with $5.76 billion in ad dollars in the first quarter, declined 4.8%. Spanish-Language Cable TV fared best, falling only 1.1%, while Syndication was hit the hardest at -18.8%. However, one bright spot was African-American television (a subset of Network, Cable, Syndicated, and Local), which grew a healthy 7.9%.

Media Category

Q1 2009 vs. Q1 2008

% Change

Spanish-Language Cable TV


Cable TV




Network TV


FSI Coupon


Spot Radio




Network Radio


Spanish-Language TV


Local Newspaper


Spot TV Top 100 DMAs


Syndication TV


National Magazine


Local Magazine


National Sunday Supplement


National Newspaper


Spot TV 101-210 DMAs


B-to-B Magazines


Local Sunday Supplements




Source: The Nielsen Company


* Internet advertising expenditures account for CPM-based, image-based advertising. These reported estimated expenditures do not account for paid search advertising, text only, paid fee services, performance-based campaigns, sponsorships, barters, in-stream (“pre-rolls”) players, messenger applications, partnership advertising, promotions and email campaigns, or house advertising activity.

Automotive continued its downward slide, slashing spend by almost $723 million, or 27.7% in Q1. Local Auto Dealerships also cut back spending significantly, declining 24.1% ($271 million) in the Q1. Over 3,000 dealerships ceased advertising altogether.

Direct Response products continued to climb (+14%) mainly due to increased advertising for Heat Surge Heaters, Snuggie Blankets, Rosetta Stone Computer Software, and Video Professor Computer Software.

Quick Service Restaurant ad spend is thriving through the economic downturn and showed added spending from many companies, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Yum! Brands, Subway, and TPG Capital (Burger King).