Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

T-Mobile’s $412 Million Media Hole

Those “AT&T is a crappy network” ads will go away if regulators sign off on the carrier’s $39 billion deal for T-Mobile. And so will some $412 million a year in ad spending.

Or, perhaps $600 million. Depends on which estimate you want to use for T-Mobile’s annual marketing outlay.

The first, which doesn’t include Internet advertising, comes from Nielsen. The second, which presumably does, comes from WPP’s Kantar Media.

In any case, T-Mobile and parent Deutsche Telekom spend a lot on advertising each year, but not nearly as much as their peers. Nielsen pegs AT&T’s annual spend–just for wireless ads–at $896 milllion; Sprint at $616 million and Verizon at $979 million.

It’s important to note that AT&T will end up replacing some of T-Mobile’s ad spend, but not all of it. As Shira Ovide notes, cutting down on duplicative advertising is part of the rationale for the deal.

Nielsen provided me with a detailed estimate which breaks down how much of each of the carriers spend per year, on every category but Web spending and “spot” TV buying (ads bought ad hoc instead of in advance).

You can see the whole thing at the bottom of this post but if you’re impatient: Not surprisingly, the carriers spend the most, by far, on broadcast TV, followed by cable TV, Spanish-language TV, and then local newspapers.

As far as Web ad spend goes: The carriers spend a lot online, too. But tracking for that stuff is much more hit and miss. Nielsen used to provide a guesstimate for display ads, but doesn’t right now. When they did, though, AT&T and Verizon were frequently in their top 10 lists.

One other note: Lots of people are passionate about Carly Foulkes, the T-Mobile spokesmodel who wore a pink and white dress in all those ads. But I’m the kind of guy who was always more interested in the “AT&T”/John Hodgman guy. Go figure.

It turns out the actor’s name is Dan Bakkedahl, and he used to be on the “The Daily Show”, and I was wondering what he thought about this. Alas, “T-Mobile would like Dan to wait to do any interviews,” his manager informs me via e-mail.

OK. But as soon as he’s ready, he’s got an open forum here…

Wireless Carrier Ad Spend July09-June10