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U.S. Ad Spend Was Actually Up In May.


It might not be the last time you hear “the R word,” but Standard Media Index's just-out U.S. Ad Market Tracker data for May 2023 suggests that a recession – for the advertising industry, anyway – may be in the rear-view mirror.


SMI's data, based on monthly ad spending by major agency holding companies and independent media services agencies, shows a 2.5% increase compared to May 2022. That marks the first year-over-year lift since June 2022, following 11 months with ad growth in the minus column, according to MediaPost. During the first down month, in July 2022, spend declined 8.2% vs. a year earlier.


Painting a rosier picture, with a +2.9% index for May, is the consensus of the forecasts from major agency holding companies including WPP's GroupM, IPG Mediabrands' Magna, and Dentsu. These projections include more local ad spend, along with other sources not included in SMI's agency pool.


Looking at the top 10 ad categories, May's spending was also up 2.5%, while that from all other advertisers saw a 2.9% increase. Meanwhile, digital media's share of ad spend continued its steady growth, with a 47%-51%-56%-60% four-year trend since May 2020.

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