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August Ad Market Records Highest Growth This Year

New York, 17th Sep 2015 – Back-to-school marketing and summer TV ratings delivered eyeballs and dollars to the U.S. ad market in August, according to the latest monthly data from global advertising data company Standard Media Index (SMI). Ad volumes rose by 10% in the overall market in August when compared to 2014. The month’s results beat out July to clock the highest growth this year to date.

Ad spending increased across all media sectors, except magazines, with seasonal spending like back-to-school and summer advertising behind the big gains. Out of home media and digital advertising attracted the largest year-on-year rises in the market, with the increased investment equating to double-digit growth for each sector.

SMI’s August data showed that television experienced moderate growth (+3%) for the first time in six months, thanks largely to strong results in local and cable TV. Broadcast TV ad revenues declined on an annualized basis.

“A strong back-to-school market has delivered the most robust month for the ad market this year to date. We saw big jumps across local and cable TV, and sectors like out of home, newspapers and radio delivered significant year-on-year gains, as marketers’ targeted consumers through local advertising,” said James Fennessy, SMI’s chief commercial officer.

“Digital continues to record big double-digit percentage gains and the majority of these dollars are coming from new advertisers, rather than stealing share from traditional media. Unfortunately, broadcast TV didn’t join the party in August due to programming shifts which had a big impact on the performance of the sector.”

The firm’s figures show that department store retail spending jumped +44% year-on-year and attracted the largest growth amongst advertiser categories for the month, as back to school purchasing hit its peak.

Other product categories contributing to the monthly gains were quick-serve restaurants (+38%), prescription pharmaceuticals (+34%) and telecommunications (+23%), which recorded strong double-digit increases to round out the final summer month of 2015.


  • Reporting on 80% of the total national ad spending from global agencies, SMI’s data showed that cable TV grew by 3% and broadcast TV ad spend dropped by -6% year-on-year in August.
  • Thanks to back-to-school advertising, local TV recorded a 17% YoY increase and its ad revenues were responsible for boosting the overall TV market.
  • Hispanic broadcast networks continued to outperform English-language networks in August. English-language networks suffered from the absence of dollars around the 2014 Emmy Awards, the late start to the College Football season and coverage of the U.S. Open, which aired on ESPN as part of a new agreement. All events affected the sector’s year-on-year comparisons.
  • Cable networks TNT, TBS and Food Network attracted double-digit percentage increases in August, and DIY-channel HGTV revenues spiked in line with seasonal trends.
  • AMC Networks also fared well thanks to the launch of Fear the Walking Dead, which was a ratings bonanza in primetime for August.
  • Broadcast TV advertisers invested more heavily in the scatter market in August compared to the same period in 2014. The market grew by +16% YoY. Scatter was flat for cable.
  • It was a mixed month for the upfront market. Broadcast TV pulled back by -12%, however cable TV spent +4% more in the upfront market than this time last year.
  • Total buys in the digital sector spiked by +21% in August YoY. Social media websites (+87%), video sites (+33%) and internet radio (+26%) were the key drivers of growth for the month.
  • Traditional media sector out of home posted a +41% year-on-year increase in August as it continues to grow at a fast rate.
  • Out of home was joined by newspapers which grew by +11% for the month. Both are mediums commonly employed by back to school marketers.
  • Radio ad revenues increased by +9% in August, however magazine spending fell -10% on a YoY basis.

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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