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AdLand Spending Grows Despite Economy
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The STRATA Survey, a survey that polls more than 100 media buying agencies around the nation, came out with its second-quarter findings about the condition of the advertising industry.

And Doc, the results look good.

Really good. According to the survey, in the second quarter 52% of agencies saw business increase compared to last year. That is up from 40% in the last quarter. Also, 94% of agencies expect these positive business conditions to last throughout the year, and a smiling 40% even expect growth.

How about those apples?

While economists and stock market onlookers continue to whine over the rise and fall over the Speculation Index, STRATA and others are measuring actual results. This survey helps reveal what kind of money is being spent to encourage consumers to buy. As advertising, according to the source, is looked at as an indicator for consumer confidence, perhaps these findings should add a little pep to the steps of brands and service providers alike.

For example, in this survey, not even 7% of the agencies polled predict a decrease in business growth for the rest of the year. That is the lowest number STRATA has recorded since 2008.

And guess what, job seekers? Along with the group of agencies that expect this positive wave to continue, 94% of agencies are looking to either hire or maintain their current staff level. Yay jobs!

Now, as there are always variables that help skew the trends, this outlook is no different. In one of the fiercest presidential election seasons and with the change of "political speech" there has been a dramatic increase in political advertising this year. According to a STRATA executive, June and July alone saw $640 million in TV buys alone — a record in that time period that was driven by political ads.

The survey also mentioned some interesting media use. Spot TV buys increased during the second quarter, and 44% of advertisers don't believe that digital advertising and spending will ever catch up to the traditional methods. Hard to argue, for even this quarter TV was the most-used medium for advertising.

But digital is still growing, so don't fire that digital-marketing wizard yet.

A little over 87% of advertisers are using Facebook, and Twitter is a far second place at 38%. Also of note, Pinterest was used in 15% of campaigns in 2012, beating the more established Foursquare, and a mere 3 points behind the sleeping monster, Google+.

Foursquare hasn't been doing so hot anyway, since many LBS services have been integrated. We wouldn't waste time with it either.

The survey reveals that although political spending has pushed up costs, non-political advertisers not only intend to compete, but will also wait until after to get better placement. That means that media channels will have plenty of competition even after the political season dies down. 

All in all things look good for AdLand. The doom-and-gloom from the economists might be harping on the negative, rather than focusing on what's really happening. Or maybe the 100+ agencies across the nation are wrong. Looks like the only thing we can do is wait and see.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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