Total spending among the 100 Leading National Advertisers reached a record $108.6 billion in 2013, passing the previous spending peak set in pre-recession 2007.
Still, this group remained careful with its dollars. Spending increased 4.4% last year and an average of 4.0% over the past three years.
These blue-chip marketers account for an outsize portion of advertising growth. Overall U.S. ad spending last year edged up just 2.7% and is on track to grow 4.6% in 2014, according to the average of the most recent forecasts from WPP's GroupM, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Magna Global and Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia. Overall U.S. ad spending won't break its 2007 record until 2015, according to ZenithOptimedia's June 2014 forecast.
Ad Age this year has expanded the annual LNA report to include U.S. advertisers Nos. 101 through 200 (available to DataCenter subscribers at AdAge.com/lna2014). It's a diverse list of marketers that do everything from delivering content (Netflix) to packages (UPS), with companies ranging from luxe (Chanel) to in flux (struggling RadioShack Corp.). Total U.S. spending for the second 100 rose just 1.4% to $40.6 billion in 2013 -- big bucks, but less than the combined spending of the 17 biggest advertisers.
Total spending estimates consist of advertising in measured media -- traditional media and internet display ads -- from WPP's Kantar Media -- plus Ad Age's estimate of spending in unmeasured disciplines including various digital plays (paid search, online video, unmeasured forms of social media), promotion, experiential marketing and direct marketing. Ad Age estimates unmeasured spending to capture the difference between measured-media figures and the company's estimated U.S. total spending.
The 100 LNA accounted for about two-fifths (42.2%) of all U.S. measured-media spending in 2013. Measured spending for the top 100 rose 3.2% in 2013, outpacing the sluggish 0.9% increase for overall U.S. measured-media spending.
Unmeasured spending for the 100 LNA jumped 6.0% and represented 45.5% of those firms' U.S. total spending. Measured media accounted for the rest of the pie -- a 4.3% slice for internet display advertising and 50.2% for traditional media (TV, radio, print, outdoor).
Last year's 4.4% increase in total spending for the 100 LNA beat 2012's modest gain (2.8%) but came in below 2011 (4.8%).
Two-thirds -- 68 -- of the 100 LNA boosted total spending last year; 32 reduced ad outlays. Those proportions were nearly identical to 2012 and 2011.
Among the 100 LNA, 39 advertisers last year had total U.S. spending above $1 billion.
Total spending for the 100 LNA rose in every major industry in 2013. The biggest gains came from technology firms (up 26.0%), led by a 60.7% increase at Microsoft Corp. as it plowed an estimated $1.8 billion into advertising to promote Windows 8 software, Surface tablets and other products. Samsung Electronics Co. came in just behind Microsoft with estimated spending of $1.7 billion, up 20.8%.