What market crash? 2000 set new record

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Despite the major decline in the ad market during the second half of last year, record expenditures by the top 100 b-to-b advertisers in the first half more than carried 2000. High expectations for the then-burgeoning dot-com economy translated into $6.7 billion spent by these companies, a whopping 16.7% increase over the $5.7 billion spent in 1999, according to recent data from Taylor Nelson Sofres’ CMR.

The biggest spending spikes came in the telecommunications and financial sectors, where brands old and new increased their advertising budgets to solidify their positions in the b-to-b space. Companies such as Verizon Communications, SBC Communications Inc., Visa USA and Bank of America Corp. all became top 10 ad spenders in 2000.

Of these, Verizon was the biggest story, catapulting past the likes of IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Sprint Corp.—which perennially rank among the biggest b-to-b spenders—to become the No. 1 advertiser of 2000.

Formed in 1999 by the merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp., Verizon launched a huge ad campaign last year for its wireless services, spending roughly $276.5 million to reach small businesses and corporate executives. Verizon took a fully integrated approach, spreading money around to many media. It spent most in spot TV and local newspapers, where it merged branding messages with calls to action.

For the year, Microsoft moved into second place, spending more than $265.3 million, a 6.6% increase over 1999. IBM slipped from second in 1999 to third as its budget dropped 27.3% to $231.6 million. Sprint also slipped in the rankings, to fourth, but increased spending 37.0% to $223.8 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were: SBC Communications (comprised of Southwestern Bell, Ameritech, Pacific Bell, Cingular Wireless and other companies) at $173.6 million; American Express Co., $162.9 million; AT&T Wireless, $153.7 million; Compaq Computer Corp., $134.7 million; Visa, $128.7 million; and Bank of America, $123.3 million.

Some relatively new companies made the biggest moves on the list, including Agilent Technologies, which boosted spending 110.7% to $105.7 and ranked 14th, and Voicestream Wireless Corp., which increased ad spending by 531.0% to $66.4 million and ranked 35th.

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