The U.S. advertising market fell 31 percent in May from the same period a year ago, according to national advertising revenue data released this week by ad data experts Standard Media Index.

Standard Media Index

It’s the third consecutive monthly drop the U.S. ad market has experienced in light of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SMI’s analysis, which is the industry standard for ad spend data, coming on the heels of a 35 percent decline in April and an 11 percent decline in March. SMI’s data is derived from advertising sales figures supplied by the largest U.S. ad agency holding groups.

SMI attributed much of the faltering market to the loss of advertising suffered by a continued delay of major sporting events, which particularly hurt entertainment conglomerates WarnerMedia (which owns TNT) and ESPN (which is owned by Walt Disney Co.). WarnerMedia’s ad revenues fell by 45.5 percent in May while Disney’s ad revenues tumbled 39.6 percent, according to SMI’s report.

The travel and tourism industry was the sector to witness the biggest losses, where ad spends experienced a punishing 87 percent drop. Ad revenues in the automotive world fell by 60 percent, followed by apparel and accessories, where ad spending declined 54 percent. Advertising from restaurants and retail outlets decreased by 52 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Tech ad spending slipped 25 percent and financial services dipped 13 percent. The only sector to see a year-over-year advertising uptick was the pharmaceutical industry, which spent four percent more in May than it did during the same period last year.

An April forecast by digital market research company eMarketer estimated that U.S. digital display advertising could decline as much as 18 percent in the second half of this year, and that TV ad spends could decline by 29 percent.