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MediaRadar Says February Ad Spend Totaled $10.8 Billion.

It’s no secret that first quarter is one of the quieter periods on the advertising calendar, but some brands used the month of February as a testing ground. MediaRadar says it tracked more than 10,300 new companies advertising during February, with more than a third of them coming from three categories – professional services, tech, and home furnishings.

The advertising intelligence firm says it was not just new companies in the February mix, but also new strategies. It says nearly 20,000 companies ran ads in at least one new ad format during February. Those ad categories where companies were testing new marketing waters include professional services, technology, and industrial products and services.

Thanks in part to that experimentation, MediaRadar estimates $10.8 billion was spent across all advertising channels during February. That is an eight percent decline from the $11.8 billion spent a year earlier. Total spending was also down seven percent from January, which the firm says in its monthly update is “not abnormal with ad spend trends.”

There were some bright spots, however. It says 11 of the 27 ad verticals it tracks saw increased spend on a national level compared to January and to February 2023. That included apparel and beauty, while categories that saw weaker spending include pharmaceutical and finance.

Apparel climbed 16% from January and was up three percent from a year earlier. Beauty advertisers invested around $444 million, or a six percent increase from the prior month, with a two percent gain from a year earlier. And advertising for baby and children’s products jumped 26% from last year.

On the other side of the ledger, 16 of 27 ad verticals were weaker in February. Medical and pharmaceutical ad spending slid 14% from January and was down nine percent from last year. Finance ad spending fell 21% month-to-month and 12% year-to-year. And professional services spending slid seven percent between January and February, and there was a 17% decrease from a year earlier, likely a reflection of mediocre consumer spending and continued high inflation rates.

MediaRadar typically does not release media-specific monthly results, but it said that preliminary local TV ad spending jumped 11% in February versus a year earlier, with spending topping $1 billion. It says San Francisco was one of the markets that experienced over a 20% increase from last year. Other local TV markets that had big increases included Raleigh-Durham, NC (+22%), Indianapolis (+22%), Baltimore (+21%), and St. Louis (+21%).

“MediaRadar predicts an increase in local ad spend this year,” the update says.

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