AT&T leads carriers' TV ad spending in October, topping charts for 3 months in a row

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) continues to lead all of its competitors in TV advertising spending in October, according to a new report from TV advertising measurement firm AT&T also led the market in TV ad spending in September and August, according to, while T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) was the leader in July.

AT&T accounted for nearly one-third of the industry's total TV ad spending last month, the report said. While the four Tier 1 carriers remained in the lead, AT&T's Cricket Wireless prepaid brand also increased its spending in October, edging closer to fourth-place finisher Sprint (NYSE: S).

AT&T ran 24 different ads in October. Out of those, it spent most heavily on "Son," a commercial aired 334 times across 26 networks, with 118 airings during primetime, according to AT&T also spent heavily on "On the Go," which aired more than 1,600 times, with 485 placements in primetime.

The "Son" ad features Milana Vayntrub in her familiar role as AT&T saleswoman named Lily Adams, talking up AT&T's 15 GB for $100 shared data plan, with a dad saying he needs a plan with a lot of data because his son burns through data, only the son is revealed to be an infant, with Vayntrub skeptical that the baby needs a smartphone plan. The "On the Go" ad features narration from actor and comedian Steve Carell and highlights the combination of ATT and DirecTV and the ability of customers to watch TV shows outside of their homes.

Verizon Wireless' (NYSE: VZ) "Emojis" ad was also a major spot in October and accounted for an estimated $13.9 million in spending last month, while only running through Oct. 12. In just under two weeks, Verizon ran this ad 1,002 times across 42 networks, with 422 of those placements during primetime, said. The ad features the new iPhone with a series of emojis celebrating its arrival and remarks, "And then you remember there's Verizon, which is great, because if you're going to get the best iPhone, wouldn't you want to have the best network? Kind of makes you want to jump for joy, tell all your friends and family, even throw a party," with emojis displayed on different parts of the narration.

T-Mobile remained steadily in third place in October, with the most focus on "iPhone 6s Arrival." The ad, which aired 907 times in October for a total estimated spend of $10.1 million, features music by The Love Me Nots. The ad touts that T-Mobile has doubled its LTE coverage in the past year and that its 700 MHz A Block spectrum, which it markets as "Extended Range LTE." That's useful because the newest iPhones can take advantage of that spectrum and coverage, which now includes 175 million POPs.

Although Sprint was the No. 4 spender, its "Time Machine" received the biggest push of any wireless ad in October. The commercial, featuring comedian Kyle Kinane, generated over 4.5 percent of the industry's total digital response and was backed by an estimated outlay of $16.8 million, according to The "Time Machine" ad highlights Sprint's "iPhone Forever" program, which lets customers upgrade to a new iPhone every year. Sprint also ran seven other ads in October, five of which were in Spanish.

Cricket joined the top spenders by placing more than $11 million worth of ads in October, the report said. The ad "Summit" received the bulk of this spending. The ad promotes Cricket's entry-level $35 per month cellular phone plan after a $5 autopay credit.

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