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Ad Market Stays Flat in April, Digital Media Surges

New York, 21st May 2015 – The U.S ad market remained relatively flat in April despite being boosted by intensifying digital media revenues across programmatic, social media and video sites. Standard Media Index (SMI) said the total market rose by +1% both for the month and also for the calendar year-to-date, according to its latest report out today.

Despite every other sector slowing or showing little movement for the month, digital ad bookings jumped by a healthy +21% on a year-on-year basis.

While SMI recorded declines for the television sector (-6%) in April, ad revenues for spot TV and local/MSO stations attracted healthy single-digit gains.

“SMI’s data reinforces what most commentators are saying, which is that traditional media continues to remain soft as brands expand their investment in digital. We see large traditional TV advertisers, like retail and financial services, move significant dollars into digital at the expense of their television spend. The encouraging news for content owners and creators is that a lot of this money is finding its way into digital video as advertisers look to align their brands with premium content,” said James Fennessy, SMI’s chief commercial officer.

SMI’s category data showed that TV’s largest advertisers shifted dollars away from the sector and invested heavily in digital media in April. Traditional TV advertisers food, dairy and produce (-14%), retail (-12%) and financial services (-4%) all pulled back on TV spending but recorded double-digit growth in digital.


  • In April, cable and broadcast TV fell by -7% and -8% respectively. In the overall television sector, TV bookings dipped by -5% in the broadcast year-to-date (BYTD).
  • CBS and ABC were the best performing broadcast networks in April, with both reporting similar ad revenue numbers in 2015 over 2014.
  • In cable, Discovery Channel grew by +17% in the month and the Food Network and HGTV also saw single-digit growth.
  • Digital continued its vibrant growth in April. Social media grew +70% year-on-year and video (+44%), ad networks/ad exchanges (+35%) and internet radio (+32%) all saw double-digit growth.
  • Across the TV sector, ad revenues within the scatter market continued to strengthen for both cable and broadcast TV, growing by +5% and +18% in April year-on-year respectively. For the broadcast year-to-date, scatter ad spend is up +16% in cable TV and up +19% across the broadcast networks.
  • Last year’s soft upfront continued to manifest itself in decreased upfront ad dollars in the current marketplace. Cable (-9%) and broadcast (-12%) revenues took a hit in April.
  • In print media, newspapers ad revenues increased by +1% in April however the magazine market declined following a -4% decrease in spend. Advertiser interest in out of home rose by a healthy +7%, however radio advertising weakened by -12% in the month.

SMI captures 80% of total U.S. agency spend exclusively from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as leading independents. It reports monthly on actual spend data and is the clearest picture of the flow of dollars across the sector.

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