The nation's biggest advertisers are tightening budgets, but ad spending is surging for internet-age marketers. That's a key takeaway from Ad Age's 63rd annual Leading National Advertisers report, out today. Ten quick takes from the new report:
1.The top 200 marketers increased spending on U.S. advertising and marketing services a meager 1.1 percent in 2017. That's the slimmest gain since the ad recovery began in 2010, though spending still reached a record $155 billion.
2.Internet-age companies drove ad spending. Eleven web-based marketers—including Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Expedia Group and Netflix—boosted spending 24.4 percent (see graphic). Spending for the rest of the LNA—189 companies—fell 0.4 percent.
3.Amazon ranked as the nation's fourth-largest advertiser in 2017, up from No. 8 in 2016 and No. 70 in 2010. Amazon last year spent an estimated $3.4 billion on U.S. advertising and promotions, up 28 percent.
4.Ad and marketing-services spending for the 200 Leading National Advertisers fell last year in three major categories: automotive, down 7.3 percent; food, down 3.4 percent; and financial services, down marginally (-0.3 percent). Automakers are working hard to reduce costs; Ford Motor Co.'s stated 2017 worldwide ad spending as percent of revenue (2.6 percent) dropped to its lowest level since 2003. Food marketers cut spending as they grappled with slow industry growth and pressure from investors to improve performance.
5.Among the top 200 advertisers, 111 increased spending. Biggest gain: loan referral site LendingTree, up 69 percent. Sharpest decline: floundering retailer Sears Holdings, down 39 percent.
6.The 200 LNA continue to power up digital spending and pull back from traditional media. The top 200's measured-media spending, excluding digital media, fell 4.8 percent in 2017, according to Ad Age Datacenter's analysis of data from WPP's Kantar Media.
7.Web-based marketers are spending more on traditional media. LNA's 11 internet-age marketers last year increased spending on measured media (excluding digital media) by 19.1 percent. That's a big jump, but digital remains at the core of internet firms. LendingTree, for example, boosted its stated broadcast budget 25 percent, but online ad spending surged 75 percent. The site pours nine out of 10 ad dollars into online ads.
8.The nation's 200 biggest advertisers last year accounted for half of U.S. measured-media spending, including nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of TV advertising.
9.Geico was the most-advertised brand in 2017, taking the top spot on Ad Age's ranking of brands' U.S. measured-media spending for the second year. Berkshire Hathaway's Geico ($1.4 billion in measured spending) was the only brand with spending above $1 billion.
10.Look a year ahead to next June's LNA report, and Comcast Corp. should keep its position as top spender. AT&T (including just-acquired Time Warner, now WarnerMedia) likely will be the No. 2 advertiser. Estimated U.S. ad spending in 2017: $5.7 billion for Comcast, $5.2 billion for AT&T and WarnerMedia.
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