February U.S. measured ad spending skidded 4% to $10.8 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Key reason: Network TV plunged 19.9% from the year-earlier period, which was inflated by Winter Olympics advertising.
Network TV spending tumbled $465 million, swamping gains in internet and magazine advertising, according to TNS data. As a result, overall measured ad spending in February fell $452 million.
Drop-off not a surprise
The network drop-off wasn't a surprise. General Electric Co., owner of Olympics broadcaster NBC, noted in its first-quarter financials that it didn't have a current-year counterpart to the $684 million in Olympics revenue that it collected in first-quarter 2006.
Factor out network TV, and February ad spending was essentially flat, rising just 0.1%. That minuscule gain would have been a loss were it not for a continued surge in internet ad spending.
Internet spending (excluding paid search such as Google, which TNS doesn't track) rocketed 16.8% in February. Consumer magazines showed solid gains, with measured spending increasing 5.3%.
Ad spending over a rolling 12 months -- March 2006 to February 2007 -- was up 2.6%, according to TNS. The internet led the way with a 16.9% gain over that period. Factor out the internet, and old media rose a meager 1.7% over those 12 months.
February's weak performance followed a sluggish 0.5% increase in January ad spending. Media spending is off to a depressing start this year, a troubling sign for an advertising recovery that began in May 2002, five years ago this month.