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Largest Advertising Budgets

A look at the categories and companies that spend millions telling you what to buy.

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Advertising Dollars Harder to Come by in 2009

Turn on your TV and before long you'll see a car commercial. And if you don't see one of those, you'll likely see a commercial for a bank or cell-phone company.

That's because automotive, telecom and financial-services firms spent the most dollars on advertising from January through June of 2009.

Of course, "spending the most" is all relative these days. Most industries spent less on advertising in 2009 than they did in 2008. The faltering economy guaranteed that. Consider the automotive companies: They led the way by spending more than $4 billion in advertising during the period surveyed. But that represents a 31 percent drop from what the auto sector spent from January through June of 2008.

Financial services companies, which spent the third-highest amount of advertising money in January through June of 2009 at just under $3 billion, spent a whopping 24 percent more on advertising one year earlier.

The telecom companies, though, did buck this trend. In January through June of 2009, they spent $4 billion in advertising. That's an increase of 8 percent from the year earlier. Telecom and restaurants, in fact, were the only business sectors that spent more on advertising in the first half of 2009 than they did in the first half of 2008.

And the restaurant business, which spent slightly under $3 billion in advertising in the first half of 2009, only increased its adverting spending by 1 percent from the same period in 2008, so it barely counts. Businesses in general spent 15 percent less on advertising in the first half of 2009 when compared to the same period one year earlier. Food and candy, travel and tourism, personal care and direct response businesses all cut back on their advertising spending in the first part of the year.

All forms of media, save the Internet, felt this drop in advertising dollars. Companies actually spent 7 percent more on Internet advertising in the first half of 2009 than they did in the first half of 2008. Of course, Internet advertising has historically been a cheaper buy.

The media that charge higher rates all had tough first halves of 2009: Newspaper advertising fell by 24 percent, while radio advertising dropped by 25 percent. Magazine advertising fell by 21 percent, while outdoor/billboard advertising plummeted by 16 percent and television advertising dropped 10 percent.

By the way, if you're tired of seeing commercials for Verizon, Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors, don't be surprised. These companies spent the most on advertising in the first half of 2009. The next big five advertisers were News Corp., Sprint Nextel, Time Warner, General Electric and Disney.

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