Key Takeaways

  • Guideline data suggests that the advertising industry’s Covid-19 recovery is complete. Ad spend has mostly leveled off since the big fall, corrected from the strikes and recession cautions, and reset to normal with modest +3% growth (Sept - Jan YoY). Significant growth in spend in late 2023 indicates media advertising’s positive, stable recovery.
  • As expected, Digital media is outpacing Linear channels overall, and Digital Audio leads the way in that category (think Spotify ads). In terms of advertising spend by industry, sports programming dominated Linear TV, particularly toward the end of the year. This time frame marks the peak or start of the season for several major league sports, including the NFL, the most invested programming of the year.

Setting the Stage for This Year's Media Plan

Annual planning is more of a ‘starting point’ than ever. Media trends change on a dime, so maintaining relevance and timeliness is crucial to a successful media advertising strategy. And perhaps you’re thinking, “It’s 2024. Why would I need data from 2023?” The answer is simple: We look to the past to anticipate and plan for the future. Developing these media plans, however, is significantly more complex because pursuing a forward-thinking strategy is nearly impossible without accurate, reliable historical data. Now, you have that data.

What does 2023’s advertising data tell us about what to expect for the rest of this year? Here, we illustrate actual ad spending trends with media spend data from January 2023 through November 2023 and show percent increases year over year (YoY) compared to the same period in 2022. To help facilitate more accurate media planning in 2024, the following data details what these facts and figures could mean for media advertising’s immediate future.

Media Types & Channels That Showed the Most Growth

From 2022 to 2023, industry spending was sporadic as a response to inflation and recession concerns, sending media investments in different directions. According to Guideline data, the media types and channels that showed the most growth in that period are as follows:

Highest Growing Media Type: Digital

As society submerges deeper into the digital age, most advertisers expect investments in digital channels to continue outpacing linear overall. In 2023, advertising industry spending in the Digital category showed a +6.7 percent increase, the only media channel to experience positive growth. The next highest-growing media type is (albeit slightly) negative YoY (-0.01 percent), meaning digital is taking more share.

Fastest Growing Media Channel: Digital Audio

Today’s tech-first culture continues to explore the business opportunities of digital channels. Data shows a +16.6 percent increase in ad spend for Digital Audio as a channel, demonstrating the marketing potential of broadcasting audible ads on popular platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. Digital Audio was the fastest-growing media channel, followed closely by Digital Video and Search, both of which experienced a +10.3 percent increase YoY.

Most Invested Programming: NFL Football

Sports was the only genre to expand in October 2023. This growth can be attributed to the start of the NFL regular season (Sept. 7), the NHL season (Oct. 10), and the MLB World Series (Oct. 27-Nov. 1). NFL programming was both the most invested programming (with an +11.6 percent increase) and the largest percent market share of 2023 (at +10.7 percent). The NBA trailed behind in market share with +3 percent, followed by college football at +2.9 percent.

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Categories with Greatest Investment Growth

Guideline’s dashboards show individual category and subcategory investments by media type to see which advertisers are taking advantage of these opportunities. This level of granularity provides media planners with the visibility needed to develop strategies in a volatile market. The ad spend categories with the greatest investment growth for 2023 include:

Category Group: Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG)

The CPG category experienced the greatest investment growth of the year, showing a +12.6 percent increase YoY. This category was followed closely by ad spend in travel services (+11.5 percent increase) and pharmaceuticals (+10.1 percent increase YoY). We see retail purchases and travel services returning back to pre-pandemic status as the economy rebounds from previous closures.

Product Category: Medical Equipment & Facilities

Continuing with ad spending trends in healthcare categories, Medical Equipment and Facilities showed the greatest investment growth (+28.5 percent increase). The second and third highest increase was seen in the household supplies product category (+26.2 percent increase) and casual dining (+15.9 percent increase).

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Highest Growth Rates Overall

Guideline uniquely see across owners and parent owners to dive deeper into trends than was previously possible. By taking into account the biggest players in the game plus leading independents, users receive a comprehensive view of the advertising landscape to more easily identify investment opportunities. Overall, the highest growth rates of 2023 included:

Highest Growth in Monthly Media Ad Spend: July 2023

July 2023 saw the most substantial growth rate of any month that year: a +5.9 percent increase over the previous year. July was followed by May (+2.5 percent YoY) and October (+2.4 percent YoY). This is significant, particularly for the October time frame, because spending in that month was unseasonably light in 2022, and that YoY increase suggests positive recovery.

Greatest OTT Marketplace Deal Growth: Premium Programmatic Guaranteed

Across all OTT Video ad spend, Guideline saw a +5% increase in 2023. OTT Video advertisers increased their YoY spend in Programmatic Premium by +33 percent. Even greater, the deal type with the greatest growth among OTT, was Premium Programmatic Guaranteed, up +39 percent.  

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How to Make a Meaningful Media Plan for 2024

Since the pandemic, recession reaction, and entertainment strikes - ad spending trends are finally starting to reset back to normal. Digital channels continue to grow over linear, but Linear channels are still holding onto significant market share and reaching new heights. By the close of 2023, this market share was dominated by NFL programming. NFL spend grew double-digits in Q4 2023, and surpassed $1B in November for the first time.

These insights are all part of the incredible transparency offered by Guideline data. Our advanced tool reveals the key players and major investments driving the media advertising industry, allowing advertisers to anticipate trends and refine their strategy. By offering media planners reliable, objective data on which to base their advertising decisions, Guideline is leveling the playing field of the media landscape.

See how unmatched visibility into ad spend data can maximize your media plans for the upcoming months by scheduling a demo with Guideline today.

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