AT&T dramatically raises TV ad spending in March

The TV advertisement that AT&T spent the most money on during March was its “More for Your Thing: Getting Serious.” (AT&T)

AT&T significantly increased its TV advertising efforts in March, outspending the rest of the nation's top wireless network operators by a wide margin.

According to new data from TV measurement company iSpot.tv, AT&T spent an estimated $71.2 million during the month of March on TV ads. Much of the carrier's spending during the period was in college basketball programming. The carrier spent the most, an estimated $25.6 million, pushing one particular advertisement: “More for Your Thing: Getting Serious.”

AT&T's $71.2 million advertising budget for the month of March was significantly higher than the industry's second-place spender, T-Mobile. According to iSpot.tv, T-Mobile spent just $48.2 million during March.

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AT&T's increased ad budget for March is notable considering the carrier didn't make it into iSpot.tv's list of top-five spenders during the month of February. In January, AT&T spent just $24.5 million on TV ads, according to iSpot.

Based on iSpot.tv's monthly tabulation for FierceWireless, Verizon and T-Mobile typically spend the most on TV ads. Therefore, AT&T's apparent change in strategy for the month of March could indicate the operator's desire to boost its customer gains at the tail end of the first quarter. Indeed, near the end of February, AT&T tweaked both its unlimited data pricing and its promotional offers.

Overall, 19 brands spent an estimated $295.1 million on 107 commercials that aired over 56,300 times and generated 16.4 billion TV ad impressions during the month of March, according to iSpot.

FierceWireless partners with iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company, to bring you a monthly snapshot of the wireless industry's advertising spending. The results below are for the top five spenders among wireless industry brands from March 1-31.

Here’s how the top brands allocated their national TV advertising budgets:

1. AT&T Wireless

  • spent an estimated $71.2 million on nine spots that ran over 9,000 times.
  • generated almost 3 billion TV ad impressions.
  • prioritized spending on these networks: CBS, TBS and TNT.
  • prioritized spending on this programming: the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament, College Basketball and NBA Basketball.

The AT&T ad with the most spend (est. $25.6 million): “More for Your Thing: Getting Serious

2. T-Mobile

  • spent an estimated $48.2 million on 13 spots that ran over 7,700 times.
  • generated nearly 2.3 billion TV ad impressions.
  • prioritized spending on these networks: ABC, NBC and Fox.
  • prioritized spending on this programming: the 2018 Oscars, "The Voice" and "The Walking Dead."

The T-Mobile ad with the most spend (est. $16.4 million): “Samsung Galaxy S9 for 50 Percent Off: Boat

3. Verizon

  • spent an estimated $43.6 million on 12 spots that ran over 6,800 times.
  • generated over 2 billion TV ad impressions.
  • prioritized spending on these networks: ABC, TBS and ESPN.
  • prioritized spending on this programming: the 2018 Oscars, the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament and NBA Basketball.

The Verizon ad with the most spend (est. $21 million): “Surprise: Pre-Order,” featuring Thomas Middleditch

4. Sprint

  • spent an estimated $40.1 million on 14 spots that ran over 9,600 times.
  • generated 2.6 billion TV ad impressions.
  • prioritized spending on these networks: ABC, AMC and NBC.
  • prioritized spending on this programming: NBA Basketball, "The Walking Dead" and the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The Sprint ad with the most spend (est. $13.9 million): “Every Year: Get Two for One

5. MetroPCS

  • spent an estimated $24 million on 10 spots that ran over 5,200 times.
  • generated 1.5 billion TV ad impressions.
  • prioritized spending on these networks: NBC, Fox and ABC.
  • prioritized spending on this programming: NBA Basketball, "The Voice" and "Blindspot"

The MetroPCS ad with the most spend (est. $13.6 million): “Sharing With No Limits


iSpot's data do not include co-promotions or local market data. Click here for more information on iSpot.tv's methodology.

The company's software leverages proprietary audio and video fingerprinting algorithms to automatically identify and extract TV commercials, movie trailers and show promotions.

The company tracks hundreds of millions of explicit interactions with TV ads across roughly 100 million unique consumers. These interactions include video plays, searches and social activity. The company also analyzes online views across YouTube and iSpot.tv; searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo!; and social activity on Facebook (including Facebook private views) and Twitter.

iSpot.tv tags over 40 different dimensions of metadata, including brand, agency, actors, products, songs, moods, URLs and other pertinent data, to create its results.

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