Ad spending growth slowed to 2.8% in the second quarter, leaving expenditures up 3.2% to $71.5 billion in the first half of 2011, according to the latest figures from Kantar Media.
The slower spending could mean that the two-year old advertising recovery is in jeopardy.
"Key ad indicators are painting a mixed picture," Jon Swallen, senior VP research at Kantar Media North America said in a statement. "On one hand, a majority of media types actually improved their performance from Q1 to Q2. On the other, spending growth for the Top 100 advertisers stalled in Q2 and the ad market became more dependent on the comparatively smaller budgets of mid-sized advertisers as the main source of growth."
Where media spending is increasing, most of those dollars are going to Internet media, Kantar said. Internet display advertising was up 12.9% and search grew 8.6% during the first half.
Some areas of TV were also resilient. Cable networks increased 11.8%, but broadcast network spending dropped 7.6%, according to Kantar. Kantar said some dollars that shifted from broadcast to cable followed high profile sporting events, mainly the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, which CBS now shares with Turner Broadcasting, and the BSC college football bowl games, now mainly on ESPN after airing on Fox last year. There was also a shift to cable in several major product categories, including prescription drugs, financial services and consumer packaged goods.
Syndicated TV spending jumped 18.5% in the first half. Kantar says the increase comes because there were more hours of monitored programming plus larger budgets from auto insurers and consumer packaged goods marketers.
Spanish language TV was up 1.7% in the half as a few financial service providers increased spending, while telecom advertisers cut back.
Spot TV fell 0.9%, reflecting weakness in telecom and a disruption of spending by auto makers.
Six of the top 10 advertisers cut their ad spending in the first half including No. 1 Procter & Gamble, No. 2 AT&T and No. 3 General Motors. The No. 4 spender was Comcast, which increased spending by 35.1% to $884.5 million, thanks in part to the acquisition of NBC Universal.
Chrysler increased spending by 58.7% and L'Oreal spent 25% more than it spent a year ago.
The top 10 TV advertisers according to Kantar were AT&T, whose expenditures were down 3.7%; P&G, down 11.3%; General Motors, down 7.7%; Comcast up 37.8%; Verizon, down 22%; Chrysler, up 60.3%; Johnson & Johnson, down 15.2%; Ford Motor Co., up 0.8%; Pfizer, down 8.2% and McDonald's, up 7.3%. In total, the top 10 TV spenders cut their outlays by 1.7% in the firs half of 2011 to $5.516 billion.