Ad spending tops 2000 by 25%, hits $141 billion

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U.S. ad spending last year rose 10% to $141 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence. That's a record year-and 25% above spending in 2000 at the peak of the last boom. But there are signs growth is slowing.

Measured-media-spending growth in the fourth quarter was 9.2%, a pullback from the 10% growth for the first nine months. Most troubling: network TV, where growth plunged to 2.1% in the final quarter from 14.3% for the first three quarters compared to year-earlier figures. The network-TV estimate tracks with another report showing actual ad revenue for three top networks rose 15.8% for the first nine months but only 2.8% in the fourth quarter.

Biggest growth story: Internet ad spending, surging 21.4% last year-and up about 72% since 2000, according to TNS estimates.

Overall growth since 2000 is impressive. Measured ad spending was up 24.8% in 2004 vs. bellwether 2000 for media where TNS collected data in both years. All media grew except two: national newspapers (down 14% after a drop in tech and financial advertising) and national spot radio (down 2.1%). (The ad industry has lost jobs since 2000 despite spending growth; see TurnSignals, left.)

Measured media figures aren't the same as media revenue. TNS estimates spending using rate cards, and advertisers often pay a discount off rate card. TNS estimated 2004 broadcast network ad revenue at $22.5 billion, up from $18.4 billion in 2000. Actual 2004 revenue reported by ABC, CBS and NBC to a trade group, Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association, was only $11.7 billion.


TNS percent changes do offer a perspective on how different media types perform over time. Biggest gainer: again the Internet, whose share of adjusted U.S. ad spending rose to 6.1% in 2004 from 4.3% in 2000.

TV is falling off. TV's share of advertising dropped last year to 47.2% from 48.6% in 2000, TNS data show. "TV is declining in importance although certainly not going away," said Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine in a report last week.

But TV has winners and losers-and cable is gaining. TNS figures show cable's share of overall network/cable spending grew to about 39% in 2004 from 34% in 2000.

Total U.S. ad spending figures are open to debate, but TNS growth rates provide strong evidence that 2004 was a record year.

More on TNS's 2004 report: QwikFIND aaq38p

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