How a Lizard Became the Biggest Ad Spender (and Nine More Marketer Facts)


We've got your number. Ad Age's 200 Leading National Advertisers 2017 report is out today with a treasure trove of information on the spending habits of big brands. Here we give you just 10 takeaways from our 62nd annual report on the nation's top advertisers. For more, go to or see a summary by downloading the 200 Leading National Advertisers 2017 Fact Pack.

Geico, home of the gecko, topped AT&T, the biggest-spending brand in 2015, to become the most-advertised U.S. brand in 2016. LendingTree put 63% of its revenue into advertising. Photos courtesy of brands.

The 200 biggest advertisers in 2016 increased total U.S. ad spending, including advertising and marketing services, by 3.6% to a record $152 billion. That tracked with the overall market; Zenith Media says spending on U.S. major media and marketing services rose 3.6% in 2016.


The top 200's measured-media spending last year grew 1.8%, powered by TV (up 3.7%, driven by broadcast network TV) and digital (up 4.9%, with a surge in paid search making up for a decline in display spending). Magazine and newspaper measured spending for the 200 LNA dropped 5.6% and 17.9%, respectively.

Amazon Worldwide Ad and Promotion Spending
Source: Ad Age Datacenter analysis of company filings. Amazon ad and promotion spending, 2000-2016:
200 LNA share of 2016 U.S. measured-media spending
Source: Ad Age Datacenter analysis of data from WPP's Kantar Media ( Expanded data:
Geico U.S. Measured-media spending
Source: Ad Age Datacenter analysis of data from WPP's Kantar Media ( Geico 1997-2016 ad spending in Berkshire Hathaway profile:

Geico, home of the gecko, was the most-advertised individual brand in 2016, for the first time taking the No. 1 spot on Ad Age's ranking of brands' measured-media spending, knocking off AT&T (the top spender in 2015). The Geico Gecko made his advertising debut during the 1999-2000 TV season. Geico and Verizon were the only brands with U.S. measured-media spending above $1 billion in 2016.


Comcast Corp. for the first time topped the 200 LNA with spending of $5.6 billion, ahead of prior No. 1 Procter & Gamble ($4.3 billion) and General Motors ($3.8 billion). P&G ranked No. 1 in 42 of the 62 years Ad Age has produced the LNA report. GM was tops 16 times. Philip Morris Cos. (now Altria Group) led the list three times in the 1980s, when it marketed tobacco, food and beer.


Comcast's top ranking reflects a change in methodology. Ad Age now models the company based on Comcast's "advertising, marketing and promotion" expense disclosures, a broader measure than Ad Age's previous estimate of ad spending. If Ad Age had adopted the new model earlier, Comcast would have taken over the top spot in the LNA 2015 report.


Look ahead to LNA 2018, and Comcast (cable service, NBC Universal) should keep the top spot, and AT&T likely will be the second-biggest ad spender if it completes its pending acquisition of Time Warner.

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