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MediaRadar: Studios And Travel Driving Ad Growth, While Software And Education Spend Has Declined.

While economic uncertainty still looms large for most advertisers, ad spending across digital, print and TV media was up 7% during the first four months of 2023 vs. that of 2022, to $44 billion, according to an analysis from MediaRadar.

A closer look at which ad categories have driven that growth this year, along with those where product spend is significantly down, shows that advertiser response to an iffy economy has varied depending on the product or service. “There’s only one economy, but it impacted advertisers differently in 2022,” MediaRadar's report says. “We expect that variability to remain in effect in [the second half of 2023].”

With a 36% boost in ad spend to $1.1 billion for Jan.-Apr., the film business has focused on filling seats of theaters showing superhero-driven fare such as “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” with Disney's promotion of the former notable given production costs nearing $200 million. “The big investment by Disney illustrates the pressure on studios to turn a profit, and precisely why this corner of the entertainment world will likely continue to invest significant ad dollars in 2023,” the report says.

The spend increase on the travel business side has been driven by ads for U.S. tourism bureaus (up 38%), cruise lines (+20%) and lodging (+13%), while airlines spent more than $422 million, a 138% year-over-year increase. Notes MediaRadar, “Although inflation and the looming recession are putting a dent into entertainment budgets, many Americans have made it clear that travel line items aren’t getting cut.”

Advertisers having reduced spending during the first four months of 2023 include big box retailers, professional services, beauty products, software, and colleges and universities. For the latter two, advertisers of finance and business software cut spend by 22% and 10% year-over-year, respectively, while college and university spend was down 13% to $397 million.

While education advertising's decline may be seasonally-driven, MediaRadar suggests it may be related to rising tuition costs and lower enrollment rates. “Between 2019 and 2022, undergraduate college enrollment dropped by 8%,” its report says. “With employers putting less emphasis on higher education, enrollment may continue to fall, which could also bring spending from colleges and universities down.”

For 2023's second half, MediaRadar also sees retail media hitting a market value of $45 billion this year and to grow by another $10 billion in 2024, changes in the streaming video business forcing advertisers to reallocate their OTT ad dollars, and AI's rapid rise impacting Google and Facebook's advertising strategies.

Note that MediaRadar’s report does not include radio figures.

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