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Restaurant ad spending declines in first quarter of 2015

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File

(Read caption) A family eats at a sidewalk cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, on May 6, 2015 in New York. For the first quarter of 2015, restaurant advertisement spending fell 4.9 percent.

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Total U.S. advertising spending declined 4 percent in the first quarter of 2015, but restaurant spending dipped even deeper to 4.9%, according to data from Kantar Media.

Restaurants were the fifth-largest category during the quarter, spending $1.601 billion (or $17.8 million a day), down from $1.684 billion a year earlier. But 2014’s Q1 included a Winter Olympics that spurred spending ($600 million). Only telecom and pharmaceuticals showed a gain in 2015’s first quarter.

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Restaurant industry ad spending peaked in Q3 of 2013, when the burger chains were still trying to outdo each other with a succession of new menu items. During that quarter, restaurants spent $1.733 billion, more than 8 percent above category spending in the most recent quarter.

For full-year 2014, restaurants spent $6.463 billion, an increase of just 0.1 percent over 2013.

Kantar’s data shows declines in 16 of the 21 media types it charts, including a 9.2 percent drop in spending for network TV and a whopping 32.3 percent crash in Sunday magazine spending. Consumer magazine spending was down 7.3 percent; local newspaper ad sales were down 16 percent.

This is the first quarterly report from Kantar that includes spending for Paid Search advertising. This includes text ads on the Google and Bing search engines. This category was up 7 percent in Q1. Spending for Online Display, which measures desktop display ads only and excludes video and mobile ad formats, was down 8.7 percent compared to last year.