Paid Media Flat, Owned and Earned Media Spending Growing Faster than GDP

Total US advertising expenditures edged up 0.8% in 2011, finishing the year at $144 billion, according to March 2012 data from Kantar Media. The Kantar data also shows ad spending declines every quarter since the third quarter of 2010.

Separately, private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson has interesting data about spending growth for 2012 in both public relations and “outsourced custom content.” Historically, spending on public relations has been a proxy for use of “earned media,” while “custom content” has been a proxy for “owned media,” to an extent.

Owned media includes brand publishing, among other things. The interesting notion here is that both earned media and owned media seem to be on a clear upswing in 2012, growing faster than the overall economy, even as spending for “paid media” seems to be basically flat.

It would be rational to argue this represents a shift in spending priorities away from paid media to both earned and owned media. Put another way, both content marketing and content curation could be direct beneficiaries of higher spending by marketers.