Ad budgets in flux, but digital, FSIs up in 2009: Kantar Media

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Total advertising expenditures for 2009 were $125.3 billion, a 12.3% drop from the previous year, according to measurement firm Kantar Media (formerly TNS Media). Internet advertising and free-standing inserts were the only sectors that reported growth, 7.3% and 3%, respectively, according to the company.

Yet during the fourth quarter of 2009, Internet advertising contracted 2.1% year-over-year and FSIs were flat. During the same period, traditional channels, including television and national newspapers, posted gains.

“We're looking at depressed numbers for [Q4] 2008, so that contributes a little bit,” said Jon Swallen, SVP of research for Kantar Media. “The pickup in 2009 was largely coming from retail categories' holiday spending. That was an active category not only in national newspapers, but in TV. A lot of major retailers bet the ranch on salvaging a lousy 2009 with holiday campaigns.”

However, that does not explain the drop in digital spending, Swallen added. After avoiding large-scale traditional buys early in 2009, marketers moved spending from digital to traditional channels as business picked up, he said.

“Budgets that had been reallocated to the Internet were again reallocated toward other mainstream, offline media,” Swallen explained.

The overall bump in free-standing inserts can be attributed to marketers encouraging consumers to spend in a miserable economy, Swallen said. He expects the trend to continue in the short term, until brand marketers are no longer worried about losing customers to generic products.

“We've still got a situation where consumers are price-sensitive and value conscious, and many manufacturers are trying to prevent users from trading down from branded items to generics,” Swallen said. “Coupons are a great way to promote trial.”

The study also found DRTV spending fell 11.5% year-over-year. Though some DRTV marketers said last year their businesses were healthy, often noting that recessions are good climates for DRTV, low media costs may have contributed to the decline, he added.

“We're seeing declines in rate card pricing [for television ads], so that depresses spending for everyone,” he said. “Some of the reductions here are just a function of lower average pricing.”

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