Data from media measurement firm Kantar Media is showing overall growth in ad spending for the first half compared to the same period 2010. Total ad expenditures rose 3.2 percent totaling $71.5 billion.

While that growth is positive, it slowed from first to second quarter, fueling concern for the ad recovery-particularly from the biggest brand marketers. Spending in the second quarter was up 2.8 percent versus same period last year.

"Key ad spend indicators are painting a mixed picture," said Jon Swallen, senior vice president of research at Kantar Media North America, in a prepared statement. "On one hand, a majority of media types actually improved their performance from Q1 to Q2. On the other, spending growth for the Top 100 advertisers stalled in Q2 and the ad market became more dependent on the comparatively smaller budgets of mid-sized advertisers as the main source of growth."

In aggregate, magazine media edged up 2.9 percent for the half when compared to the first half of 2010. Consumer magazines were up 4 percent for the half, but Kantar notes second quarter spending for this category pulled back.

B-to-b magazines were up 1.4 percent. Sunday magazines were down -7.6 percent, local magazines were relatively flat at -.7 percent and Spanish language magazines shot up 29 percent. Indeed, that growth for the Spanish magazine category was recently reflected in some rate base jumps at Meredith.

Digital spending remained strong with a 10.4 percent gain for the half, with paid search up 8.6 percent and display up 12.9 percent. Kantar notes that digital accounted for more than half of the total spending gain for the half.

[Full release]

Executive Changes at Kantar

Meanwhile, Kantar announced new executive appointments. Moving up through the SRDS group are George Carens, who was named president of Kantar Media Intelligence North America, and Steve Davis, who replaces Carens as president of SRDS and Kantar Media Healthcare. Davis was previously senior vice president of sales and client service at SRDS. Carens replaces Mark Nesbitt, who left the company.

And David Hamric was named GM of the Marx unit, which tracks the consumer promotion and couponing market.

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