24 March 2015

Ad Spending: Pixels are Up, Ink & Paper are Down

U.S. ad spending went up slightly in 2014 because pixels increased more than ink & paper declined.

That's my analysis of fresh data from Kantar Media summarized in this chart:

The pixels were TV (+5.5%) and Internet Display (+0.9%).  Representing ink & paper were Magazines (-5.1%), Newspapers (-10%), Outdoor (-0.2%) and FSIs (-2.8%).  Radio was also down -3.9%.

Like everything in modern media, though, it's never this simple.

Two Questions to Think About

Please consider the environment
before printing this billboard
The "pixels" category above only seems to represent the "First Screen" (TV) and the "Second Screen" (personal computers).  We don't see the Third Screen (mobile devices) and Fourth Screen (digital out of home).  That leaves us with a couple of questions.

What is TV?  As posted recently, TV isn't dead, it's just morphing into a more personalized experience.  If anything is dying, it's Cable TV.  Now, Cable ad spend actually grew +6.8% last year, a big reason for TV growing +5.5% overall, thanks to sports and political campaigns.  But viewers are cutting the cord, or at least shaving it, in favor of new OTT options.  The thing is, it's harder to track the ad revenue, which is there if you're watching The Flash online at CWtv.com, but not if you're watching House of Cards on Netflix.  Kantar says their data doesn't track online and mobile video ad spend.

What is Outdoor?  The vast majority of OOH (Out of Home) inventory is still ink & paper, although many media companies continue investing in DOOH (Digital Out of Home) and Digital Place-based Media.  Kantar pointed out "digital outdoor ad spending has grown six times faster than the overall medium".  So it's reasonable to say that Outdoor's -0.2% decline is probably a mix of pixels being up and ink & paper being down.