Ad spending in the United States was down 9 percent in 2009, according to information released by The Nielsen Co., but cable TV and Spanish language cable TV stood out as the top-gaining media.

Overall, ad spending fell an estimated $11.6 billion to a total of $117 billion last year. The numbers represented a continued trend of at least six straight quarters of negative growth in the ad industry, but Nielsen said it’s a trend that shows evidence of slowing down. In the previous two quarters, Nielsen reported declines of 15.4 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

“Fourth-quarter ad spending was down just 2 percent year-over-year, and that helped soften the full-year decline,” said Terrie Brennan, senior vice president for new business development at Nielsen. “In fact, most of the top advertisers showed increased spending late in the year. These are encouraging signs for an ad market that’s still trying to stop the bleeding.”

Year-to-year change in ad spend, by media

Media category*

Jan-Dec 2009 vs. Jan-Dec 2008  % change

Spanish Language Cable TV


Cable TV


FSI Coupon




Spanish Language Network TV


National Sunday Supplement


Spot Radio


Network Radio


Network TV


Local Newspaper




National Newspaper


Spot TV 101-210


Syndicated TV


Spot TV Top 100


National Magazine


Local Magazine




Local Sunday Supplement


Grand total


Source: The Nielsen Co.

* All data from non-Internet media pulled from Nielsen’s Ad*Views database.

** Internet advertising expenditures pulled from Ad Relevance database and account for CPM-based, image-based advertising.These reported estimated expenditures do not account for paid search advertising, text only, paid fee services, performance-based campaigns, sponsorships, barters, in-stream ("pre-rolls") players, messenger applications, partnership advertising, promotions and e-mail campaigns, or house advertising activity.


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