Nielsen 2005 Ad Spending Slightly Rosier Than TNS

Newspapers and Network TV Log Largest Declines

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NEW YORK ( -- Nielsen Media Research released U.S. ad spending figures for 2005 that show marketers spent 4.2% more than the during previous year. Rival measurement firm TNS Media Intelligence had a slightly less rosy picture of the U.S. media market, reporting last month that U.S. ad spending was up 3% over 2004.

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One of the most interesting differences in the two measurement firm's ad spending breakdown is the network TV figure, which traditionally attracts the biggest slice of advertiser budgets. Nielsen reports that the network TV segment was down 1.5% year-on-year, while TNS said it was down only 0.3%. Nielsen attributed the drop-off to the absence in 2005 of an Olympics, a major biennial ad buy for marketers (official marketers of the recently completed Winter Olympics, carried by NBC, spent a combined $4 billion). Other projections, made during 2005, had expected network TV to show a 2% increase in ad revenues.

According to Nielsen, the top 10 advertisers in the country spent a total of $17 billion across a range of media, with Internet, Spanish-language TV and cable TV seeing the biggest jumps, and national newspapers and network TV seeing the largest declines.

According to Nielsen, Internet ad spending (excluding paid-search, sponsorships and barters) rose 23%, Spanish-language TV rose 16.9% and cable was up 11% vs. 2004.

Another highlight of the report was news that spot TV in the top 100 markets grew by 1%, pointing to some strength in the local ad market. Nielsen attributes the increase to stronger spending by automotive, retail, insurance and real estate marketers, though Nielsen also noted that spending on Spanish-language stations particularly helped the local sector.

Absent from Nielsen's findings, however, is a figure for the syndication market. Nielsen cited changes in tracking for the lack of a number. TNS had predicted spending on syndicated programming would increase to $4.2 billion from $3.9 billion for the year.

Among Nielsen's other findings, Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke brand had the highest number of brand references, or product placements, on TV, with 2,814, and Everlast apparel came second with 1,655. The show with the highest number of placements was NBC's "The Contender," with 7,502 placements, followed by "The Apprentice," with 3,577.

Media agency number crunchers and Wall Street analysts said they take the ad spending figures from both organizations with a pinch of salt, given their imprecise methods of calculating totals. One executive said he preferred to rely on numbers from the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association. But the group, made up of financial and HR executives from the big media firms, ceased releasing quarterly ad revenues for the broadcast networks this year.

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