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Ad spending finally on the rise

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Kai Ryssdal: This is a very big day in television-land. Billions of dollars are on the line. Today’s the opening session of the annual ritual known as “the upfronts.” When networks preview their new fall shows for advertisers, in the hopes of selling them a couple of billions of dollars worth of prime-time ad space. The upfronts have been a pretty depressing event the past couple years.

But Jill Barshay reports advertisers are feeling a bit better about spending this year and not just on television, either.

Jill Barshay: I’m at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The third floor ball room is filled with ad buyers. They represent McDonald’s, Procter and Gamble, Budweiser. They’re trying to guess which of NBC’s shows will be hits and where to put their money.

Brian Steinberg: This is the first presentation of the year, and money’s already passing hands.

That’s Brian Steinberg. He’s the television editor at Advertising Age. He says some analysts predict TV ad spending will be up 10 to 20 percent this year.

Tim Spengler is president of Initiative Media in North America. He buys print, Internet, radio and TV time for major advertisers. He’s not quite so optimistic.

Tim Spengler: 2010 is the beginning of a bounce back. 2009 arguably the worst year in the history of advertising, so it’s a little bit more fun to be in a growing business again.

Spengler expects total corporate ad budgets to increase 2 to 4 percent this year. He says it will still be a few years before marketers return to pre-recession spending. What’s interesting, he says, is where the ad dollars are now going.

Spengler: Advertisers are allocating more and more of their monies to digital media, whether that be search or in niche websites.

Procter & Gamble, for example, is sponsoring podcasts for new mothers.

Procter & Gamble’s new mothers’ podcast: As part of our ongoing series “Me, my baby, my world,” that we’re doing with Pampers, we decided today to celebrate Earth Day…

But there’s no upfront market for podcasts — at least not yet.

In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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