First-Half Ad Spending Up 9% Despite Impressions Drop: iSpot

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Despite a 6.1% decline in impressions, TV ad spending rose 9% in the first half of 2021, according to a mid-year review from analytics and measurement firm

After spiking as people stayed home during the COVID-19 pandemic, total TV impressions fell to 3.77 trillion. 

At the same time, total national TV ad spending rose to $21.4 billion, iSpot estimates. Advertisers who were sidelined are rushing to get their marketing messages back on the air.

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TV spending by automotive marketers was up 41%, quick-serve restaurants were up 25% and beer brands were up 57%.

That means that ad prices on cost-per-thousand viewers impressions rose, a trend that will continue next year based on a red-hot, record-setting upfront market.

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“Successful vaccine rollouts early in 2021 spurred newfound optimism for consumers and TV advertisers alike. With programming and audience predictability getting back to normal, brands were able to embrace business-as-usual messaging and leave masks behind in their creative. The shift in tone was apparent by the time,” the iSpot report said.

Addressable ads continued to grow, iSpot said, increasing by 14.6% compared to the same period last year. However, addressable advertising remains a small part of TV advertising overall, representing just 1.6% of total on TV.

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iSpot notes that sports have pretty much returned to normal with the NFL, NBA and college basketball being three of the top four impression generators so far in 2021. 

In terms of advertising message, iSpot noted a few trends. 

“While the pandemic initially drove an increase in purpose-driven TV ads, diversity and inclusion themes have led the way in 2021 as brands reevaluate messaging against an altered backdrop,” the report said.

iSpot also noted an increase in commercials that could be described as “funny.” The number of funny ads has been up every month so far this year, and In February 36% of the ads were funny.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.