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Financial crisis II: Credit card companies cut back on TV ads

October 9, 2008 |  5:10 pm

Credit_cards_2 Here’s more fallout from the credit crisis: There might soon come a time when you miss those incessant Capital One TV ads that showed Visigoths storming quiet suburban neighborhoods. Nielsen Monitor-Plus released numbers today showing that credit card companies such as Capital One, Discover and Visa drastically reduced the number of TV ads they’re buying these days. And when TV advertising spending goes down, networks have less to spend on quality TV shows.

This summer, TV advertising by credit card companies was up significantly from the same period last year. But in the first three weeks of September, credit card companies bought 24% fewer ad units than they had during the same time last year. Mutual funds bought 29% fewer TV ad units than they had during the same period last year. And loan companies bought 7% fewer ad units than they had in the first three weeks of September 2007.

The cutbacks aren't just affecting the big networks.

“The big impact is really on the local TV stations,” says Mike Vorhaus, president of research firm Magid Advisors. “That’s where they run a lot of these ads.”

Ctlogo_3TV advertising already took a beating this summer when the housing market collapsed: then, mortgage services companies bought 54% fewer TV ad units than they had during the same time the previous year, and loan companies bought 37% fewer, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. It’s probably not going to get any better: Retailers aren’t expected to spend as much this year on advertising during the busy holiday season, and next year, stations won’t have ads for the Olympics or the presidential race to boost revenues. Which means, for now, any credit card ads starring Visigoths should probably be considered a good thing. 

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Visa is one of the companies that cut back on TV advertising in September. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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