Breaking a five-quarter winning streak, Kantar Media’s fourth-quarter 2017 short-form DRTV media billings results show a $139.6 million (16.9 percent) year-on-year decrease, slipping to $684,293,900. Even with this disappointing finish — mainly due to a sizable drop in cable spending — total 2017 short-form DRTV spending rose by nearly $222.6 million (8.5 percent) to finish at $2.85 billion.
Huge increases in the year’s first nine months more than offset the fourth quarter’s troubles, helping short-form DRTV enjoy its best year since topping $3.6 billion in 2014. Last year in this space, I asked two questions: 1) Is this the floor for short-form DRTV? (The answer, for now, appears to be yes.); and 2) Will Kantar Media shift how it measures short-form in order to become more inclusive of the growing use of calls-to-action and response mechanisms by advertisers who traditionally played in the brand space? (That answer remains muddled.)
Cable’s Streak Ends
After a full year of impressive increases, cable TV hit the wall in 4Q 2017, dropping $164.5 million (24.6 percent) from the fourth-quarter 2016 results. Of course, last year’s 4Q (a $219.3 increase) was one of its best in some time. Three of the other four outlets gained spending (all four gained in market share as the cable sector dropped 7.5 points). Network TV rose $1.8 million (10.3 percent), spot TV jumped $4.3 million (7.8 percent), and Hispanic network TV spiked $23 million (75.8 percent). Only syndication was down — $4.1 million (7.7 percent).
Led by Dell’s return to the fold, the “Computers, Software, and Home Office” category was the quarter’s big winner, adding $17.6 million — a near six-fold increase. “Audio Supplies and Equipment” (up $4.3 million) and “Business” (up $4.1 million) were other notable gainers.
Among the 11 down categories, “Household, Furniture, and Appliances” dropped $109.3 million (43.8 percent) compared to 4Q 2016 numbers. The big factor? Though the My Pillow team spent a short-form-leading $74.8 million on new entrant My Pillow Premium, its spending on the traditional My Pillow product dropped $109 million. Other big losers: “Crafts, Hobbies, Sporting Goods, and Toys” dropped $35.6 million (36.8 percent) and “General” lost $8.2 million (23.6 percent).
Total Campaigns Take Another Dip
The downward trend in total campaigns aired continued, with 953 total campaigns marking a 7.3-percent decrease from the same quarter in 2016. So, while spending-per-campaign was down, those losses (by percentage) weren’t as precipitous as overall decreases. Based on the total, per-campaign spending hit $718,042, a 10.4-percent decrease, while spending per campaign outside the top 40 — $314,165.
Seventeen of the campaigns that appeared on 4Q 2016’s top 40 returned in fourth-quarter 2017. Seven of the quarter’s top 10 appeared in last year’s top 40, led by Nutrisystem ($30.3 million) at No. 2.