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Ad Market Surges 23% in November, Delivers Record Number

New York, 17th Dec 2015 – The start of the holiday season and a robust TV market delivered a record-breaking month for the U.S ad market in November,according to Standard Media Index’s (SMI) latest data.

The total market grew by more than 23% in a year-on-year comparison in November, driven by dollars flowing into a lively television sector (up 17%) which saw double-digit increases across every part of TV. Cable rose 18% and broadcast jumped by 15% YoY for the month.

Strong network ratings in November propelled TV’s big gains. As the football season continued to gain momentum, 30 million viewers tuned-in to CBS on Thanksgiving Day for the most-watched game of the NFL season and NBC’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast was the fall’s most-watched non-sports telecast.

Late night TV ratings and new programming also continued to fare well with audiences. NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’ delivered the second best monthly ratings average in seven years.

While TV showed no sign of a slowdown following its vibrant start to the broadcast year, growth rates were also significantly higher across the entire advertising market. Digital (37%), out of home (44%), newspapers (22%) and radio (24%) all recorded excellent year-on-year increases.

“Strong consumer spending in the lead up to the holidays coupled with a strengthening TV market, driven by the power of NFL ratings, has delivered the highest monthly advertising spend seen since SMI started tracking agency bookings in 2009. November’s result is a staggering 16% higher than the previous record month, demonstrating the faith major brands have in the ad market to drive brand awareness and sales,” said James Fennessy, SMI’s chief commercial officer.

“All sectors have been swept up by this positive momentum and we expect this trend to continue, particularly if solid TV ratings continue to attract the high pricing that the scatter market is currently commanding.”

SMI’s latest data echoes consumer spending trends in November, which rose solidly as the holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start according to a Commerce Department report.


  • Reporting on 80% of national ad spend, total television bookings remain down 1% for the overall calendar year-to-date.
  • All other parts of the TV sector including local/MSO cable (28%), syndication (25%) and spot TV (11%) posted healthy gains in November.
  • SMI’s data recorded a robust month for upfront ad spending. The market rose by 13%, driven by broadcast’s 9% growth and cable’s 16% increase.
  • The overall scatter market delivered a 33% YoY gain. Broadcast ad volumes spiked by 44% and cable delivered a 24% increase.
  • The top six broadcast networks saw ad sales growth in November 2015. CBS, ABC, NBC, Univision and Telemundo all showed healthy rises, thanks to their fall sports and new entertainment programming roster.
  • Cable networks ESPN, HGTV, FOX, TBS and Food Network continued their strong performance again in November with significant double-digit percentage rises.
  • The SMI digital market continues to deliver double-digit growth (37% YoY) for November 2015. The drivers of this growth are social media sites (116%) and video sites (92%).
  • Content sites (20%) and programmatic media (41%) make up the majority of digital ad dollars.
  • SMI’s data showed that the out of home sector recorded a 44% year-on-year increase in November.
  • In the print market, newspaper spending expanded by 22% YoY in the past month, however the magazine market grew at a slower rate (3%).
  • Radio ad volumes enjoyed an exceptional month and rose by 24% YoY.
  • The top growth categories in a year-on-year performance for November were prescription pharmaceuticals (+65%), quick service restaurants (+47%) and food, produce and dairy (+33%).
  • Interestingly, SMI’s data showed a significant increase in prescription pharmaceuticals advertising in November as doctors’ groups began campaigning for a crackdown on direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies.

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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