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Cable Leads Ad Rebound

U.S. ad spending was up 6.4% in the first half of 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research. That increase was driven by political spending and by traditional advertising. The leading percentage gainer among electronic media was cable TV.

Cable TV spending was up 12.5% to lead electronic media, followed by network TV, up 7.5%; network radio, up 5.5%; spot TV, up 3.3%; and spot radio, up 3%.

Spending among the top 10 advertisers for the first half of the year was up 11.3% to $8 billion. The top 10 were Procter & Gamble, $1.45 billion (up 10.6%); GM, 1.21B (+7.7%); DaimlerChrysler, $887M (up a whopping 55.9%); Disney, $706M (+12.1%); Ford, $705M (+11.6%); Time Warner, $696M (-5.3%); Johnson & Johnson, $667M (+7.4%); Altria Group, $607M (-4%); Pfizer, $581M (+9.1%); Nissan, $545M (+21.3%).

Nielsen predicts a strong second half, powered by Olympics advertising and spot TV spending by the Kerry and Bush camps in key battleground states.

Already in the first half of the year, the Kerry and Bush camps combined have aired 356,161 TV spots. Kerry leads with 131,707 to Bush's 123,285, but Nielsen says the difference is much greater when soft-money groups are figured in. Kerry-backers Media Fund Organization, Move On, AFL-CIO and Sierra Club combined account for 100,000 spots of the total, while the Bush backer Club For Growth accounts for only 3,891.

Both campaigns put the vast majority of their TV spots in local news--53,232 units for Bush compared to 53,052 for Kerry. The next most popular spots were the network morning shows.

The Bush campaign's favorite syndicated show for spots was Wheel of Fortune (3,812), while Kerry's was Oprah (3,049). Jeopardy, Oprah, Wheel, Live with Regis & Kelly, and Dr. Phil made both campaigns' top 10 list for TV spots. In fact, nine of the top 10 were the same for both campaigns. The only difference was that NBC's Tonight Show made Bush's top 10, but not Kerry's, while Judge Judy was on Kerry's top 10 list, but not Bush's.

The Bush campaign, which targeted smaller markets that Kerry, bought the most spots in the Burlington-Plattsburgh, N.Y., market, while Kerry's top market was Eugene, Ore.