SMI/MediaPost Ad Tracker: Spending Rises 10% In September.


U.S. ad spending was up 10.2% in September, compared to the same month a year ago. This according to a MediaPost analysis of Standard Media Index’s (SMI) updated U.S. Ad Market Tracker.


The updated version of the Ad Market Tracker, which was launched in partnership with MediaPost in 2015, contains analysis of a composite of actual ad spending from the major agency holding companies.


“The initial index was a custom model that prioritized trending back to 2009, but in that time the model had fallen out of sync” with SMI’s total pool of ad spending data, explains Rick Bruner, Head of Insights and Analytics at SMI, noting that the current pool includes all six of the major agency holding companies, as well as “many of the largest independent agencies.”


The current pool represents about 95% of national brand advertiser spending, MediaPost says. It does not, however, represent total U.S. ad spending, much of which is bought by small advertisers and agencies buying local and/or direct digital media from big platforms like Google and Facebook.


The updated U.S. Ad Market Tracker is a composite index with a baseline set to the average month in 2017.


“We at SMI feel it is our duty to the industry, as the stewards of this immensely valuable data set, to share this intelligence for the betterment of industry health with transparency on industry trends and pricing norms,” Bruner said. Future collaborations will include some explicit ad price market intelligence, which will be published in the months to come, he added. New features of the updated composite include a side-by-side index values and growth of digital vs. traditional media.


Current monthly data shows that digital comprises 57% of total spending, up from 48% in September 2020, and just 38% in September 2017, the first of those months represented in the new index. SMI notes that digital ad expenditures grew 29% year-over-year, while traditional media fell 9% during the same period.


MediaPost’s analysis of the rebooted market composite data shows there was no growth in total U.S. ad spending between September 2019 and September 2020, one of the first months to emerge from the COVID-19-related ad recession that began in the spring of 2020.


As has been noted in previous analysis of the Ad Market Tracker, smaller ad categories have accelerated much of the overall ad marketplace growth. While the top 10 ad categories grew only 1.7% year-over-year in September, all others expanded 23.4%. Compared with September 2019, the top 10 grew 6.3%, while all others expanded 15.9%.


SMI says that out-of-home media spending grew 69% year-over-year in September, “fueled by billboard, point-of-care (such as doctor’s offices), retail and events.”


Meanwhile, “TV is down 13%, driven heavily by post-season NBA programming,” SMI said. “NBA post-season, along with NHL, were delayed until September last year, but course corrected to summer this year. The presidential election of 2020 also drove news inventory up in last year’s September compared to this year’s.”

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