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Monday, October 16, 2006

Trend: Ad Nauseum

USA Today reports that advertising is fast infecting the consumer body. "Advertising is so ubiquitous that it's turning people off," says Rance Crain, editor-in-chief of trade magazine Advertising Age and a 40-plus-year observer of marketing. "It's desensitizing people to the message."

This year, marketers will spend a record $175 billion on ads in major media, such as TV, radio, print, outdoor, movie theaters and the Internet, says ad-buying firm ZenithOptimedia. That's up 5% over 2005. Add direct mail and other direct-response ads, and the total will hit $269 billion.

The increase comes from advertisers trying to out-yell each other, says J. Walker Smith, president of the consulting firm Yankelovich. If a marketer feels drowned out, "They just turn up the volume."

Here's how loud it's getting:

• The average 1970s city dweller was exposed to 500 to 2,000 ad messages a day, Smith says. Now, it's 3,000 to 5,000.

• In 2005, MTV (VIA) viewers had to put up with 21% more prime-time commercials per hour than in 2004, says TNS Media Intelligence and media firm MindShare.

• Marketers shelled out 71% more — $941 million — to integrate brands into TV shows in 2005 vs. 2004, PQ Media says.

• There are now ad-supported TV screens at airports, gas stations, health clubs and on buses and subways. Wal-Mart has its own network. ABC (DIS) signed with the In-Store Broadcasting Network to promote TV shows in Kroger supermarkets.

• Spending for on-screen movie theater ads swelled 21% to $453 million in 2005 vs. 2004. Off-screen ads, such as lobby promotions, rose 18% to $75 million, according to the Cinema Advertising Council.

• Marketers raised "out-of-home" spending, from billboards to elevator ads, by 9% last year to $6.3 billion, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America says.

There's more to come. Marketers see small-screen devices — iPods, cellphones, laptops and video games — as the growth frontier:

• Spending for ads on Web-enabled mobile phones is expected to be $150 million this year, up threefold vs. 2005, according to consulting firm Ovum. By 2009, that will swell 766% to $1.3 billion.

• In 2005, $21 million was spent to place products in video games, a 38% rise over 2004, PQ Media says.

• Last year, companies shelled out $13 billion on Internet classified, search and display ads, JupiterResearch says. That's expected to double to $26 billion by 2011.

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