U.S. Ad Spending Rose Just 0.7% Last Year, Despite Olympics, World Cup and Elections

Fifth Consecutive Year of Growth

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Growth in U.S. online display advertising on personal computers slowed as 2014 progressed and totaled just 0.9% for the full 12 months, according to full-year ad figures from Kantar Media. In 2013, that figure was 15.7%.

The web's smaller 2014 growth still outpaced U.S. measured media overall, which rose just 0.7% in 2014, Kantar Media said, for a total of $141.2 billion. That's roughly even with 0.9% growth in 2013 and the fifth consecutive year of increases. And the majority of top 1,000 advertisers increased their year-over-year spending in the fourth quarter, according to Kantar Media, which said that bodes well for early 2015. The digital ad spending figures also don't include video or mobile advertising, significant growth areas for the industry.

But the 2014 increase could have been bigger, given some significant boosts last year that won't recur this year.

"Advertising growth in 2014 was primarily stimulated by the triple play of Winter Olympics, World Cup and midterm elections," said Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media North America.

TV as a whole benefited from the Olympics, the elections and growing ad spending on sports programming, for a 5.5% increase in 2014, according to Kantar Media. Spanish-language TV grew 14.7%, compared with 6.8% for English-language cable TV and 5.5% for English-language spot TV spending.

Magazines, both consumer and business-to-business, declined in 2014, as did radio and newspapers. Out of home advertising was roughly flat, slipping 0.2%, Kantar Media said.

Of the largest advertisers, Procter & Gamble cut spending 14.4% to $2.6 billion, continuing a trend of ad spending declines by the company, particularly in magazines and online display ads, according to the report.

Pfizer increased spending the most among the top 10, expanding its outlay in measured media by 23% to $1.4 billion.

But top-10 advertisers aren't a good indicator of broader trends, Kantar Media cautioned, and mid-sized advertisers representing 34% of total spending grew at a faster rate than other segments, at 4.6%.

The biggest ad categories declined 1.6% as a whole, as No. 1 retail declined 2.1% and No. 2 auto fell 6.8%. Insurance, at the No. 9 spot, rose the most: 7.8%, fueled by competition among auto underwriters and health insurers, Kantar Media said.

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