By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 8, 2010

As a percent of revenue, Steve Jobs’ ad budget is relatively modest

Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of the day Friday makes a terrific point, but it took some time for me to see it.

The chart, assembled by Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova from data provided by Kantar Media, shows the total 2009 ad spend — across print, online, radio, tv, and outdoor — of selected tech companies, both in dollar terms and as a percent of revenue.

The takeaway message for me is that Apple (AAPL), which has a reputation in tech circles of selling more sizzle than steak, actually spends relatively little on advertising for a company its size. The $249 million it shelled out last year is less than half of what Microsoft (MSFT) spent for ads I find nowhere near as effective. And as a percentage of revenue, it’s less than half of the expenditures of eBay (EBAY), whose ads I don’t remember ever seeing.

The point is easier to visualize if you redraw the chart like this:

Compared with other tech companies, Apple’s sizzle spending turns out to be neither here nor there — especially given how much red meat it’s delivering.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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