First-Quarter Ad Spend Down in Europe, Flat in North America, Up Elsewhere

Nielsen says "it seems unlikely" that lagging Europe will recover over the near term.

European advertising spending declined 4.4 percent in the first quarter, while it was unchanged in North America and rose in all other regions of the world, Nielsen said Thursday.

Global advertising expenditures grew 1.9 percent compared with the first quarter of 2012, it said without providing total dollar figures.

"Trends fluctuated across the regions, as quarterly spending dropped in Europe, marginally increased in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asian-Pacific, and remained flat in North America," Nielsen said.

The media measurement firm didn't specify spending changes for individual countries beyond saying that the U.K. did better than other European territories with a decline of only 0.5 percent. The Southern European countries, led by Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen continued economic challenges and have in recent quarters driven the continent's declines.

Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report said that amid Europe's decline, "it’s clear that ad spend is still declining under the weight of the region’s economic problems." It added: "It seems unlikely that the region will recover from these challenges in the short term."

Latin America was the quarter's star performer with ad spend growth of 11.9 percent. "Impressively, spending grew in all countries in the region during the period," Nielsen said. "This emerging region does, however, face its own challenges, as some countries, like Argentina, are experiencing rising unemployment and high inflation."

In the Asia-Pacific region spending grew 5.8 percent in the first quarter. The best performers in the region were China, Indonesia and Philippines, which all saw roughly 20 percent growth, according to Nielsen. Japan, meanwhile, was the only country where ad spend dropped; it was down 1.1 percent.

Ad spending in the Middle East and Africa rose 2.9 percent in the opening quarter of 2013.

Said Nielsen: "Despite the upward progression, the region remains affected by the civil unrest in Egypt, one of the region’s largest markets, where ad spend declined by 20 percent."

Twitter: @georgszalai