Marketing and Advertising Costs
The Company expenses its marketing and advertising costs as incurred which are included within selling, general and administrative expenses. Marketing and advertising expenses for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014, and 2013 were $307 million, $208 million, and $195 million, respectively. The costs of tangible assets used in advertising campaigns are recorded as fixed assets or deferred advertising costs and amortized as advertising costs over the shorter of the useful life of the asset or the advertising campaign. The Company has several long-term sponsorship arrangements. Payments related to these arrangements are deferred and expensed over the term of the arrangement. Advertising expenses for the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 were $135 million, $87 million, and $69 million, respectively.
The Company accounts for its business combinations in accordance with ASC 805, Business Combinations, or ASC 805. ASC 805 requires an acquirer to recognize and measure in its financial statements the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed, and any noncontrolling interest in the acquiree at fair value at the acquisition date. It also recognizes and measures the goodwill acquired or a gain from a bargain purchase in the business combination and determines what information to disclose to enable users of an entity's financial statements to evaluate the nature and financial effects of the business combination. In addition, transaction costs are expensed as incurred.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from these estimates.
In recording transactions and balances resulting from business operations, NRG uses estimates based on the best information available. Estimates are used for such items as plant depreciable lives, tax provisions, uncollectible accounts, actuarially determined benefit costs, and the valuation of energy commodity contracts, environmental liabilities, legal costs incurred in connection with recorded loss contingencies, and assets acquired and liabilities assumed in business combinations, among others. In addition, estimates are used to test long-lived assets and goodwill for impairment and to determine the fair value of impaired assets. As better information becomes available or actual amounts are determinable, the recorded estimates are revised. Consequently, operating results can be affected by revisions to prior accounting estimates.
Certain prior-year amounts have been reclassified for comparative purposes.