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2002 Outdoor Advertising Revenues: A Rock in the Storm

Final outdoor advertising revenues for 2002 were released last week with less fanfare than other media but for good reason. Outdoor advertising was up a modest 0.8% for a total of $5.2 billion. Outdoor is not crawling back from a dismal prior year as are most other media, who heralded great gains in 2002 without a mention that 2001 was their worst year ever. 2001 may not have been the strongest on the books for outdoor advertising but it fell less than 1% over 2000; thus presenting a greater challenge to hold the line in what may go on record as the worst year in advertising overall.

The Local Services and Amusements category continues to be the industry's core business at 13.3% of total spending with growth even stronger than in 2001. In fact, the top five categories of spending remain unchanged from a year ago and collectively represent 50% of total spending. In addition to Local Services and Amusements, these include Hotels & Resorts, Retail, Media, and Restaurants.

Not surprisingly, Hotels & Resorts, while still representing 10% of total industry spending, paced downward versus a year ago, off by 7%, while on the up side Financial Services and Insurance & Real Estate picked up the slack.

So what's the prognosis for 2003? Initially spirits were high that recovery would be solid by June. Now with war looming and security codes wavering between yellow and orange, advertisers have become cautious and budgets are being released only at the last moment. Rather than deter enthusiasm, the outdoor industry should be encouraged. By combining the immediacy of radio with the visual engagement of television, outdoor is a powerful combination, especially at its highly attractive price points. It's about being at the right place at the right time, whether salesperson or marketer!



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