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Ad Spending in First Quarter Takes Off

The first quarter of 2022 has given marketers plenty of reasons to celebrate. As of May, US ad spending had increased for 14 consecutive months, according to US Ad Market Tracker, which combines data from Standard Media Index (SMI) and MediaPost. What’s more, SMI reports that this quarter is the best on record for ad spend since 2017, rising 13 percent higher than the first quarter of last year. Here’s what else you need to know.

Overall Numbers
It should come as no surprise that digital media is growing faster than traditional media, given the numerous digital-first habits and proclivities established during the pandemic. Digital comprised 56 percent of total ad spending in the US in April, according to Ad Market Tracker. It was up 43 percent compared to April 2020 and 51 percent year-over-year. Other traditional media saw year-over-year declines, but out-of-home enjoyed 59 percent growth in April. Within that category, entertainment and media more than doubled. Technology likewise skyrocketed by 61 percent, making those sectors the top sources of OOH ad revenue.

TV News
The news for national television advertising is also overwhelmingly positive, as per a Q1 report from Ad impressions in the “Theatrical Release” category—aka, movie ads—increased by 100 percent year-over-year as studios succeeded in luring fans back to theaters amid dropping Covid-19 case rates. Live sports likewise surged and helped boost ads on linear TV that comprised approximately one-fifth of all ad impressions delivered at the start of 2022. Events like Super Bowl LVI, the Winter Olympics and March Madness contributed to that bump. The travel category picked up speed with marketing investment rising 157 percent year-over-year. Finally, crypto platforms and sports betting apps saw gains, along with fitness brands and tax-filing marketers that normally see a spike due to start-of-year resolutions plus April 15 tax deadlines.

Social Update
Social kept pace with the positive Q1 ad spend trend, according to a recent report from Emplifi, a customer experience and social media marketing group. They found that average monthly spend on social platforms rose by 21 percent year-over-year. Interestingly, those bumps don’t automatically correlate to increased user interaction on every social site. Facebook, for example, saw a 17 percent drop in interactions with posts, — including likes, comments and shares — compared to this time last year. In contrast, interactions on Instagram remained steady at roughly 32 per 1,000 impressions. One key to user engagement there appears to be posting large quantities of back-to-back Instagram stories. According to Emplifi, “Publishing multiple Instagram Stories in a five-minute window results in lower exit rates and higher levels of users tapping back to re-watch posts. Length of videos, story order, and time of posting can also impact exit rates and tap backs.” Across the board, Q1 ad spending translates to happy news for the advertising ecosystem. Here’s hoping the positive trend continues!