Advertiser spending in the U.S. totaled nearly $152 billion last year, according to estimates released by WPP’s market research and data investment unit Kantar Media, accounting for an increase of more than four percent from 2017 and the highest total amount ever reported by the insights and consulting operation.

The growth is due, in part, to record political ad spending during the 2018 midterm elections, where political ads surged more than 93 percent to more than $6.7 billion. Ad spending among political groups and organizations now accounts for the eighth-highest-spending category among advertisers in the U.S.


The 2018 SuperBowl was another factor, where marketers dropped a whopping $408 million for in-game ads, according to Kantar. A 30-second ad for the SuperBowl last year cost $5.24 million, accounting for an increase of 96 percent over the last decade.

The industries accounting for the most ad spending last year were retail, at $17.8 billion, followed by automotive, at $14.3 billion and telecommunications, at $8.6 billion. The biggest gains were seen in the travel/tourism sector, where ad spending jumped more than 22 percent, followed by insurance (up nearly 13 percent) and the financial services industry (up 11 percent). Financial services, insurance and travel/tourism were the third-, fourth- and fifth largest spenders last year, respectively.

The only sector to see a decrease in ad spending last year was the automotive sector, where ads dipped by 3.3 percent.

Amazon is now the fifth-largest advertiser in the nation, according to Kantar’s report. The online retailer spent more than $1.8 billion in ads last year, accounting for an incredible surge of nearly 73 percent from 2017. Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway and Comcast were the four top ad spenders in the U.S. in 2018. Each revealed an uptick in ad spending last year, with the exception of AT&T, which cut its ad budget by six percent.

General Motors, Pfizer, Verizon, L’Oreal and Deutsche Telekom were also among the top 10 U.S. ad spenders last year.