Ad Spending 2009: Coupons Up, Almost Everything Else Down

Published on December 10, 2009
by Peter Kafka

roller coasterFrom the things you already know department: Ad spending has been pretty lousy this year. By Nielsen’s count, U.S. ad dollars are down $10.9 billion, or 11.5 percent, through the first nine months of the year.

Something else you likely know: One big exception to the rule has been cable TV advertising, which is up nine percent for the year and is one of the reasons companies like Viacom (VIA) have been in favor with investors. It also helps explain why Comcast’s (CMCSA) investors are only mildly upset about the NBC Universal deal.

Something you may not know: Those newspapers no one reads or advertises in anymore? They’re increasingly filled with coupons, or “free-standing inserts,” in industry parlance. Those are up 11.2 percent this year.

One big caveat: In the table below, note that the “Internet” category isn’t really Internet advertising because it doesn’t include Google (GOOG), the world’s biggest Internet company. Nielsen is only measuring conventionally sold display ads here, which means it is missing search ads, pay-for-performance ads and just about every other way of reaching consumers on the Web. According to Nielsen, Internet ads are down slightly for the year, but I’d take the tracking company’s number here with several grains of salt.

[Image credit: Ken Ratcliff]

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