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Top 10 outdoor categories for 1993, ranked by spending (in millions). Category Spending Change Retail stores $155,151.2 +93.3% Cigarettes & tobacco $101,060.3 -18.2% Business & cons. svcs. $86,895.9 +4.4% Entertainment & amusemts. $68,984.9 +9.8% Automotive $54,983.6 +15.5% Travel, hotel & resorts $40,841.0 +5.3% Beer & wine $37,226.7 +3.4% Publishing & media $33,310.7 -0.9% Insurance & real estate $27,970.4 +24.7% Liquor $24,841.5 +17.4% Percent change compares figures from 1992. Source: Competitive Media Reporting COMPETITION IGNITES OUTDOOR SPENDING GROWTH OF RETAIL TOPS TOBACCO IN '93; NO DECLINE SEEN IN '94

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Expanded activity in a majority of categories is expected to continue fueling the $696 million outdoor industry's growth, led in 1993 by retailers and business/consumer companies.

Total spending on outdoor boards by all marketers was up 6.3% in 1993, according to newly released figures from Competitive Media Reporting. Expenditures by retailers doubled to $155.2 million; spending by professional service advertisers, comprising the business and consumer category, rose 4.4% to $86.9 million. No. 2 ranked tobacco came in at $101 million, an 18% drop.

Last year, retailers including Target Stores, McDonald's Corp. and Home Depot bought space on outdoor boards to compete with rivals in the market.

"As part of an overall strategy, outdoor has the potential to hold or increase market share," said Rod Eaton, director of sales promotion at Target.

The mass retailer used outdoor in markets where competitors Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart Corp. have boards.

Industry observers see no slowdown in spending this year as current advertisers increase their outdoor budgets and new marketers integrate outdoor boards into their media plans.

"A decline. I can't imagine when there might be one," said John Miller, senior VP-local print and out-of-home media for Young & Rubicam, New York.

Conceding that retail advertising will slump someday, Mr. Miller is still sure those national, regional and local retailers just now exploring outdoor will propel industry sales for some time to come.

Spending by the business/consumer services category is about to kick tobacco's butt.

"I think it already has," said Andrea McDonald, VP-director of out-of-home at Ogilvy & Mather. She noted that Competitive Media Reporting's figures are just for outdoor boards and don't include other out-of-home media such as phone kiosks, airport dioramas and transit shelters.

As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, advertisers will continue to search for competitive edges, scrutinize strategies and emulate effective programs.

"If one does it, the other one will do it," said Arthur Gruen, president of Wilkofsky Gruen & Associates, an economics consultancy specializing in media.

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