The lessons of global advertising

Don’t let the media naysayers throw you off focus. Advertising still sells products. For the most part, people are buying what they perceive they need.

In a country of roughly 310 million, the U.S. is the #1 global leader in…wait for it, advertising! Yes, a new study shows we held the top position (out of ten countries – listed below*) as THE leader of the advertising economy by a long shot in 2009, a year that, as you know, had more than its share of economic challenges. Ironically, this happens to be very good news, not just for big companies, but for Colorado companies, too.

Why? As we have seen, when the top dogs are in trouble, everyone is affected one way or another through downsizing, etc. but, the reverse is also true.

So here’s news worth sharing. Recessionary recovery is on the upswing. Our country’s biggest consumer-driven companies spent $148.19 billion last year in various print, electronic, and digital advertising mediums. The next closest is Japan with $39.29 billion for a population of only 127 million. China, the country which most dominates in the manufacturing of products made and sold worldwide, actually came in fourth in their ad spending – just $20.29 billion after Germany. Quite low, considering China’s population is 1.33 billion (with a B) and Germany’s population is only 82 million. Why are these global market trends important to us? It shows where advertisers are investing huge sums of money to attract consumers. This can be an extremely useful guide to model business strategies on a budget-appropriate level locally.

Current trends can and should alter strategic marketing plans that may be operating from an outdated point in time. Better understanding what resonates with consumers is always key from any business standpoint in planning advertising investments wisely.

First, a few important factors: Internet users in the U.S. now represent 74.5 percent of our entire population, or 231 million Americans who comfortably use this medium on a regular basis. Good to know if you are shying away from Internet advertising. By comparison, China’s Internet use is much lower at 22.4 percent; interesting contrast given its much larger population, but let’s remember the big Google fallout and cultural censorship issues.

Facebook, however is the top social network site in six of the 10 markets and is now shared in 70 languages. It has 484 million visitors and potential friends worldwide (111.1 million in U.S.). Yet, only 13.7 percent of U.S. ad dollars spent go toward the Internet compared with its top rival, television at 35.4 percent, with advertising higher in print (newspapers and magazines combined total 34.7 percent of the sum total).

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What is the top national newspaper? The Wall Street Journal with a circulation of 2.1 million. The top national magazine (surprisingly, is not Oprah), but in fact AARP, The Magazine with 24.4 million circulation. (If your target audience is 50+, guess where you should be visible!)

ZenithOptimedia, who conducted this research, forecasts worldwide ad spending in 2010 will increase 2.2 percent and expects Asia/Pacific spending to grow 5.9% outpacing Europe and North America. What does this all mean to you? That confidence is growing in generating product sales which begets increased profits, which begets a stronger economy, which begets more jobs, and so on. That’s why it’s such good news for Colorado and beyond!


1) This is an excellent time to negotiate better advertising rates for fall and next year while traditional media outlets are more likely to be flexible in their rates while also handing out added incentives to get your business.

2) Explore the emerging media platforms that can best trigger growth for your respective business by getting into the specific niche where your target consumers already are.

3) Learn what’s working in creative branding today. For some, it’s a movement into public outreach and educating consumers about sustainability in the wise use of natural resources to reduce water and energy consumption. For others, it’s building a socially responsible partnership such as the global campaign of Proctor & Gamble’s Pampers diapers with UNICEF “one pack equals one vaccine” program into developing countries. This single promise of branding can transform a commodity product and give it qualities that make consumers choose it over its competitors because it empowers the dollar by making a difference elsewhere. With the abundance of disasters lately and rising social empathy, this type of alliance is really making an impact.

Advertising makeovers are essential from time to time to re-brand and re-connect with your customers. Look at just how much people’s lives are changing and the way in which we live and work today. Redefining your own marketing approach starts there.

*Worldwide 2009 advertising spending totaled $446 billion. One-third of spending came from the U.S; the top 10 ad markets accounted for 69 percent of spending. Ranking: 1) USA $148.19B; 2) Japan $39.29B; 3) Germany $25.59B; 4) China $20.29B; 5) UK $19.84B; 6) France $12.89B; 7) Brazil $11.68B; 8) Italy $10.94B; 9) Australia $9.32B; 10) Canada $8.74B
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Categories: Sales & Marketing