Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another 2008 Flashback: Ad Spending Already Contracting

Last week we reminded some of you that if the economy implodes, ad spending goes with it. Not news, obviously, but forewarned is forearmed and all that.

And now for our media bummer of the week: Even without a 2008-style meltdown, ad spending is already contracting.

Kantar Media says that U.S. ad spending grew 2.8 percent in Q2. That’s still growth, but it’s the smallest quarterly gain since the media business began crawling out of its post-Lehman hole.

In fact, it turns out that ad spending has been slowing since the second half of last year. Ad buys grew by 8.7 percent in Q3 2010, but have been shrinking since then.

Some sales guys I’ve talked with are still shrugging off the decline as the result of more difficult comps: It was a lot easier to post big year-over-year increases when the preceding year was the apocalypse.

And again, if you’re in digital ad sales and you don’t work for Yahoo or AOL, you’re probably not seeing any sign of a slowdown at all. And if you sell newspaper ads, you’re used to bad news because you haven’t really had good news in years.

But if things really do crater worldwide — and today doesn’t look like much fun at all — then all bets are off, no matter what you’re selling.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work