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MediaRadar: Ad Spending Surged by Nine Percent in December.

The holiday season ended with an ad blitz according to MediaRadar. The advertising intelligence firm says total ad spending during December grew nine percent from the prior year to an estimated $15.6 billion across all media. The analysis shows the growth came despite six percent fewer marketers being active in the market during the month. December also represented a slower rate of growth from November, which posted a 16% year-to-year gain as advertisers ramped up for the holiday sales season.

MediaRadar says plenty of marketing dollars were in motion during December, too. More than 16,000 companies expanded into new advertising formats in the final month of 2023, while an additional 7,700 companies entered the ad market. But that was nearly a quarter fewer than a year earlier, when it recorded nearly 10,000 first-time advertisers promoting 10,700 new products. The number of new entrants also dropped by about a third from November.

“This declining participation from new advertisers contrasts overall with higher spending levels, indicating continued investment from established players,” MediaRadar says in its latest update. It says the ad categories most likely to expand into new formats were Professional Services, Media & Entertainment, and Retail.

A majority (59%) of ad categories tracked by MediaRadar increased spending levels in December versus the prior year. That list includes Technology, Pharmaceutical, and Professional Services firms. Among the ad categories that had a bump up from November was the seasonally appropriate Alcohol ad category.

“The final month of 2023 capped off a volatile year for advertising, with numerous shifts across categories,” the report says. “With nearly 60% of sectors increasing budgets, key stalwarts like Technology, Medical, and Professional Services companies provided vital momentum to conclude 2023 on an upswing with nine percent greater overall December investments.”

MediaRadar says the Technology ad category closed 2023 “on a high note” with spending totaling $1.5 billion, an increase of 19% versus the prior year. Brands like Verizon and AT&T, which scaled up spending by 35% to over $520 million, accounted for much of the gains. “Even with pullbacks from November’s seasonal highs, these sectors’ resilience helped offset declines in other Technology subgroups,” it says.

More than $1.3 billion was spent in the Medical ad category during December, a 17% increase from 2022. MediaRadar says pharmaceutical brands drove the bulk of this growth, making up 80% of the tally, and investing over $1 billion to promote prescription treatments. But cold and flu season also brought a jump in over-the-counter medication brands like Mucinex, which invested over $226 million in December marketing.

MediaRadar says Professional Services spending totaled $970 million driven mostly by media and dental services, as well as professional associations. There were also increases in charities like Shriners Hospitals for Children and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The final report on 2023 also delivered some year-end surprises. Despite the Christmas season, the Retail ad category was one of nine product verticals that MediaRadar saw a year-over-decline in ad spending during December. Other declines included an 11% drop in non-alcoholic beverage ad spending, a six percent decrease in ad spending in the Education & Training category, and a four percent drop in Industry Products & Services ad spending. MediaRadar says those three categories invested a combined $563 million during December, which was a collective seven percent decrease from the same period a year earlier.

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