Summary:

With forecasts of double digit ad growth for both online advertising in general — and display in particular — becoming more and more typic…

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With forecasts of double digit ad growth for both online advertising in general — and display in particular — becoming more and more typical, it’s easy to feel a little bored with the endless string of data showing display’s strength. Still, with the economy looking more uncertain over the past few months, Kantar Media’s tally of Q1 ad spending offers a good deal of reassurance to display-watchers, as the category continued to rise 14.6 percent in Q1, suggesting that if there’s a slowdown, it hasn’t hit online.

After cable TV, which is even more firmly established and grew 31.9 percent in Q1, and Spanish-language magazines, which is still an emerging area and was up 22.3 percent, display ad dollars came in a number three in Kantar’s ranking of spending growth.

The company attributed the rise in display to higher spending from automakers, travel-related marketers and media companies. With Japan’s troubles impacting the auto space, that could mean less spending for the second half of this year, but it shouldn’t dent display too much even in the worst case scenarios.

Other categories continued to struggle, despite the wide spread of auto spending in the quarter. (In terms of the specific auto companies, GM, the leader in ad spending, increased its total media expenditures by 1.3 percent to $612 million, while Chrysler and Toyota and Ford upped their respective spending by 58.6 percent, 30.3 percent and 27.3 percent.) Overall, automotive was the top category with $3.7 billion of spending, up 23 percent collectively.

That higher spending barely helped newspapers. That category continued to trail the overall market, despite resurgent spending from auto dealers. Specifically, local newspapers fell by 1.1 percent compared to the Q1 2010 and the segment has now declined for 22 consecutive quarters. National newspapers’ segment was down 7.5 percent and Spanish language papers dropped 7.4 percent.

Surprisingly, network TV, after experiencing a comeback in 2010, saw its ad dollars fall by 10 percent, as spot TV slipped 1.2 percent.

In contrast, consumer magazines appeared to continue to improve, rising 6.2 percent in the quarter, as the total magazine category grew by a decent 4.5 percent.

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