Ray of hope from Q3

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After months of languishing, advertising picked up in the third quarter of 2002, partly due to easier comparisons to the depressed levels of 2001, according to figures from Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

September media spending totaled $10.3 billion, up 18.4% over the year-ago period. The bulk of the growth came from network and spot TV, newspapers and magazines. Spot and network TV were up 48.4% and 38.7%, respectively, while newspapers rose 11.5% and magazines rose 8.9%.

Business-to-business magazines remained the weak spot in publishing, down 4.5% for the month, even as consumer magazines cut their losses to 1.4% year-to-date. Newspapers regained their footing in the last quarter thanks to improvement in retail advertising and classified auto and real estate advertising, which helped offset weak help-wanted activity. (See Turn Signals, P. 8)

September comparisons were skewed by the effects the Sept. 11 attacks and their anniversary. While Sept. 2001 saw the loss of four days' worth of advertising, the anniversary of the attacks also resulted in lost advertising, as some networks and cable channels chose to air special, commercial-free programs. CMR estimated TV advertising on Sept. 11, 2002 was only $57.8 million, or 54.6% below the $127.5 million average for the five days prior. Mid-term elections also boosted Sept. 2002 local media numbers.

But some segments are showing vitality beyond the easier comparisons. Spending resumed its growth in August, when the monthly total rose above the record August 2000 numbers, mainly on the strength of cable and spot TV spending The two TV segments benefited from trickle-down effect of tight network inventories and increased local advertising during the mid-term elections (AA, Nov. 4).

All but two of the top ten U.S. advertisers increased their spending in the first nine months over the same period in 2001, most notably Verizon Communications, which is locked in a competitive battle for leadership in the telecommunications space. On the down side, Philip Morris Cos. limited magazine advertising-the only mass media vehicle still available to tobacco products-in favor of point-of-sale and price promotions. DaimlerChrysler reduced its spending due to drops in support for its Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Dodge brands.

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