With the month now behind us, SMI’s data offers real insight into the buoyancy of the market in the full first quarter of 2015 and shows there is more than a glimmer of optimism for Upfront negotiations in television and digital in the coming months.

A look at the past month’s data is a telling indicator of how each media sector will rank as we move into Q2, an all-important period for advertisers and media owners.

Winning the title of the ad industry's fastest-growing sector, digital continues to take the lead in the market with +24% growth in March year-on-year. Within the much-buzzed-about sector, ad networks and exchanges (+39%), social (+57%) and video (+34%) all recorded large double-digit gains.

The national television market grew by +1% for March with cable TV just edging out broadcast TV growth. As the industry heads into the critical upfront period, the trends we see in our data can help marketers make informed decisions for the upcoming season.

The TV market also delivered healthy gains when the huge impact of the Winter Games in 2014 is removed from our data. Taking out sports programming, broadcast TV delivered a considerable +7% increase year-on-year and cable also jumped by +4%. The big winners for the quarter were CBS and ABC in broadcast and AMC, ESPN, MTV and the Food Network in cable.

While TV and digital delivered substantial growth, other media types in the sector struggled in March. Radio grew by only +1% and newspapers were flat for the month. The magazine market shrunk -9% compared to March 2014 and out-of-home fell -1% for the same period to round out a challenging start to 2015.

Our data equips leading media companies to target those categories that are growing while ensuring resources aren’t wasted on those that are contracting. Our analysis shows that in Q1, the fastest growing categories were consumer electronics (+25%), pharmaceuticals (+16%) and entertainment (+14%). The categories that experienced the most steep declines include travel and tourism (-16%), non-alcoholic beverages (-16%) and beauty, grooming and personal care (-5%).

While it was a mixed month for ad spend, SMI’s latest data shows advertisers are still showing strong support to TV as they ramp up their investment in digital at the expense of other media.

We’ll be keeping a close watch on the market as it plays out in the coming months and will keep it informed on the top advertising spend trends.

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