New York—U.S. ad spending totaled $72.59 billion in the first half of the year, down 0.3% from the same period last year, according to a report from TNS Media Intelligence. “For the first time since 2001, media advertising expenditures have declined for two consecutive quarters,” said Steven Fredericks, president-CEO of TNS Media Intelligence. He attributed the decline to a protracted downturn in the automotive industry as well as overall weakness in ad spending across a wide array of industries. “Given the uncertainties about near-term economic growth and consumer spending, we expect core ad spending will continue to face challenges during the second half of the year,” Fredericks said. Internet advertising was the leading growth category, increasing by 17.7% to $5.52 billion in the first half. Spending in b-to-b magazines was down 7.2% in the first half, according to TNS.