Third-Quarter Ad Data Shows Europe Continues to Lag Rest of World

Amid financial challenges, particularly in Southern countries, European ad spending fell, while other regions posted gains.

LONDON - Advertising spending rose in most regions of the world in the third quarter of 2012, but it continued to fall in Europe. The continent has lagged global ad trends amid continued financial challenges in the Eurozone, particularly Southern countries like Italy and Spain.
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Nielsen's quarterly Global AdView Pulse report shows that third-quarter global ad spending increased 4.3 percent over the year-ago period to $139 billion. That was up from a 2.7 percent global gain in the first half of 2012, leaving ad spending for the January-September period up 3.3 percent.

“Growth in global ad spend accelerated in the third quarter," said Randall Beard, global head, advertiser solutions for Nielsen. "The Olympics, a major media event in all parts of the world, and the U.S. presidential election helped drive investment up."

But in Western Europe, ad expenditures in the latest quarter, for which data is available, declined 4.8 percent, accelerating a 2.7 percent drop recorded for the first half of 2012. Overall, that meant a drop of 3.4 percent for the first nine months of the year.

"Advertisers watched their budgets carefully due to ongoing economic instability," Nielsen said in explaining the downward trend.

North America, which posted a 10.2 percent gain in the third quarter, was up 5.0 percent over the first nine months of 2012. Asia Pacific was up 2.7 percent for the January-September period thanks to a 3.5 percent third-quarter gain driven by a return of ad growth in China after two consecutive quarters of decline. Latin America was up 6.4 percent for the first nine months of 2012, and the Middle East and Africa were up 18.9 percent.

One key area of weakness in Europe has been the South where financial crisis and austerity measures have been a drag on companies' marketing expenditures and consumers' box office spending.

In Italy, ad spending was down 9.9 percent in the first nine months of 2012. Spain even saw a 16.2 percent drop.

Other European markets have been doing better. In Germany, ad spending for the January-September 2012 time frame was only 0.3 percent below the year-ago period.

But even in the U.K., ad spending for the first three quarters of 2012 was down 1 percent, including a 4.2 percent drop in the third quarter. While the London 2012 Summer Olympics took place early in that quarter, analysts say that took ad money out of the market, because the Summer Games aired on public broadcaster BBC instead of an ad-driven commercial TV network.

Twitter: @georgszalai