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Buy it now! America's biggest advertisers

A few of the brands that Procter & Gamble spends billions to advertise.
A few of the brands that Procter & Gamble spends billions to advertise.Courtesy of Procter & Gamble

The 10 largest advertisers in the United States spent $26.2 billion in 2011, according to Advertising Age, an advertising trade publication. While the number is huge, it looks even larger when total spending among the top 100 advertisers is considered. The top 10 accounted for more than a quarter of the $102.6 billion spent by the top 100 advertisers. Ad Age ranked the top 100 companies in terms of advertising spending in the United States. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 largest advertisers.

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The 10 biggest advertisers represent a diverse group of industries. Two are wireless companies, and two are car companies, but otherwise, no two industries are the same. On the other hand, a relatively small number of industries dominate the top 100 list. Out of a total of 16 industries, four of them -- cars, food and drink, the pharmaceutical industry and retailers -- represent exactly half of the top 100. There are 10 automakers, 12 pharmaceutical companies, 12 retailers, and 16 food and drink companies.

Many of the largest industries in the country are only partially represented among the top 100. While McDonald’s and Yum! Brands are among the top 100 advertisers, Burger King and Wendy’s  are not.

On the other hand, in several industries, every major company is among the largest advertising spenders. All four of the major wireless carriers in the U.S. are among the top 100 advertisers and three are in the top 25. With the exception of Roche, every major global pharmaceutical company is on the list.

Some industries spend much more than others. Industries like retail, food and banking are generally customer facing and consumer oriented. For these industries, advertising is essential to market to consumers.

Some of the biggest industries are not represented on this list at all. Oil and energy companies, which rely far less on traditional advertising, are not on the list. Exxon Mobil Corporation, the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue, is not in the top 100. Other massive companies that are missing because their industries are not customer-facing include construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar and aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin.

Generally, spending on television and Internet increased from 2010. For all 100 advertisers, television spending increased 1.6 percent in 2011 to $36.2 billion, which is 35.3 percent of all measured paid advertising. Meanwhile, Internet spending, which is the third largest media expense at 4.5 percent, was up nearly 16.8 percent to $4.6 billion. Meanwhile, advertisers continue to moving away from traditional media. Spending in magazines was down 4.8 percent to $8.9 billion, while spending on newspapers advertising was down 17.3 percent to $4.1 billion. Combined, print now only represents 13 percent of total spending.

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Similarly, despite growing advertising budgets at many of the companies have chosen to reduce measured advertising spending -- advertising across media platforms -- and increase unmeasured advertising, such as direct marketing, social media, coupons and promotions. At 44 percent, unmeasured advertising represents the largest single advertising category.

Ad Age calculated each advertiser’s spending across a variety of media platforms: magazines, newspapers, outdoor, television, radio and Internet display ads. The sum of a company’s spending across these platforms is its measured spending. However, unmeasured spending ate up a sizable portion of advertising budgets as well. Unmeasured spending is defined by Ad Age to include “direct marketing, promotion, co-ops, coupons, catalogs, product placement, events and unmeasured forms of digital media (such as paid search and video).”

These are America’s biggest advertisers.

1. Procter & Gamble

  • 2011 Total Ad Spending: $5 billion
  • 2011 Total Revenue: $82.6 billion
  • Brand With Biggest Ad Spending: Olay
  • Industry: Consumer Goods

No company spent more than Procter & Gamble on television and magazine advertising . The maker of Tide detergent and Pantene shampoo spent approximately $1.7 billion on TV commercials and $1.1 billion on magazine ads. P&G advertised in other media as well, ranking third for newspaper spending and fifth for online spending. Ad spending for Olay, its most advertised brand, rose about 8 percent to $357 million, while spending for the second and third most advertised brands, Covergirl and Crest, increased by about 26 percent and 33 percent to $305 million and $229 million, respectively. P&G also increased spending on its luxury goods. Compared to 2010, marketing for Dolce & Gabbana was up by more than 21 percent in 2011 to $46 million, while ad spending for Gucci Fragrances was up by nearly 57 percent to $28 million.

2. General Motors

  • 2011 Total Ad Spending: $3.1 billion
  • 2011 Revenue: $148.9 billion
  • Brand With Biggest Ad Spending: Chevrolet
  • Industry: Auto

General Motors has recently decided to stop Facebook advertising after four years of using the social networking site. Still, the Detroit automaker is the leading online advertiser in the nation at $242 million. While GM is spending just slightly more than the No. 2 online advertiser, Verizon, it is spending almost 270 percent more than Ford in this medium. The overall GM advertising budget is up 11 percent compared to 2010, same as Ford. Despite spending so much online, television advertisements comprised the largest share of GM’s ad budget at over 36 percent. Among advertisers in the United States, it was the third largest amount for TV. GM spent the most advertising its Chevrolet brand. The company dropped its spending significantly on its GMC, the SUV and light truck division brands, cutting their advertising spending by over half, to $160.3 million.

3. Verizon

  • 2011 Total Ad Spending: $2.5 billion
  • 2011 Revenue: $110.9 billion
  • Brand With Biggest Ad Spending: Verizon
  • Industry: Telecommunications

Internet ad spending by Verizon shot up by more than 50 percent in 2011 compared to 2010 to $242 million. The telecommunication company is now second only to GM in that medium. Meanwhile, much like many companies on the list, Verizon cut down on ad spending in old media. Magazine spending went down 63 percent to $29 million; newspaper spending declined by 47 percent  to $147 million; and radio advertising dropped by 35 percent to $100 million.  Verizon and AT&T, the top two wireless providers in the U.S., spent $2.5 billion and $2.4  billion respectively on advertising in 2011. The third largest carrier, Sprint, spent much less at $1.4 billion.

4. Comcast

  • 2011 Total Ad Spending: $2.5 billion
  • 2011 Revenue: $55.8 billion
  • Brand With Biggest Ad Spending: Comcast Universal
  • Industry: Telecommunications/Media

Comcast comes in fourth for its advertising spending in 2011. A large share (24 percent) of this budget was devoted to advertising Universal movies. Comcast purchased the studio from GE as part of a deal for NBCUniversal in the beginning of 2011. Comcast increased its advertising on Telemundo, its Spanish television network, by 85 percent. Another big share of the Comcast budget is directed to Xfinity, the Company’s triple-play service of Internet, phone and television. This is a highly competitive area of the broadband business. Comcast increased its advertising for Xfinity by 53 percent to $348 million in 2011. Comcast also spends the most of any company in the country on radio advertising at 234 million.

5. AT&T

  • 2011 Total Ad Spending: $2.4 billion
  • 2011 Revenue: $126.7 billion
  • Brand With Biggest Ad Spending: AT&T
  • Industry: Telecommunications

While AT&T and Verizon spend nearly the same on measurable marketing ($1.85 billion vs. $1.7 billion in 2011), AT&T spends its money very differently from its rival. While Verizon’s magazine spending plummeted 63 percent to $29 million, AT&T actually increased its advertising in magazines by more than 4 percent to $49 million. Furthermore, AT&T cut its spending for network television by 15 percent to $688 million, while Verizon increased its by 8.5 percent to $565 million. And while AT&T, like Verizon, cut its newspaper spending and upped its ad presence online, it did so far more modestly than its rival. AT&T cut its newspaper spending by 15 percent to $155 million. It also spent $155 million online, up 15 percent from 2010.

See the other five biggest advertisers at 24/7 Wall St.