Ad-Recovery Beat Goes On: Forecasters

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New York— Advertiser spending on major U.S. media will continue to grow in 2003, according to separate forecasts released last week by Universal McCann, Zenith Optimedia and Jack Myers Report.

Publishing its latest projections for 2003 and 2004, Jack Myers Report last Monday predicted that ad spending across 12 major media categories will grow 2.8 percent next year and 4.1 percent in 2004.

Following robust upfront and scatter markets, the broadcast networks' ad sales figures next year should grow 5 percent, to nearly $16.8 billion, as spot TV jumps by 3 percent, to $21 billion, according to Myers. For their part, cable networks should climb by 8 percent, to $13.5 billion, and local and regional spot cable should grow 15 percent, to $4.7 billion.

He offered up a key reason why advertisers have increased their budgets. "Marketers are now very reluctant to decrease ad spending levels for fear of losing market share," Myers said.

The McCann and Zenith projections were announced during UBS Warburg's annual Media Week Conference here last week.

U.S. ad spending should show a 5 percent uptick next year, to $249.3 billion, said Universal McCann senior vice president and director of forecasting Robert Coen. National media should gain 5.3 percent and local media 4.5 percent, said Coen.

The Big Four broadcast networks should post a 4.5 percent increase in ad sales, to nearly $16 billion in 2003 (versus a 7 percent jump for 2002), Coen added, while cable should move up 7.5 percent, to almost $12.8 billion, after staying flat in 2002.

"Except for the uncertainties over Iraq, we would expect a much improved rate of growth for U.S. advertising next year," Coen said.

He attributed the recovery in ad sales to decisions by more major marketers to increase their ad budgets, including the automakers' heavily advertised "zero percent financing" ploys. Delayed new-product launches have also been put back on schedule, he noted.

Taking a more global view, Zenith Optimedia CEO John Perriss told his Media Week audience that worldwide ad spending will expand by $9 billion to nearly $320.7 billion next year, with U.S. TV ad spending "setting the pace." In the U.S. alone, he said, ad spending will increase by $2.6 billion to just over $146 billion.

In 2004, U.S. ad expenditures will soar even higher, up $5.3 billion to almost $152.4 billion, according to Zenith Optimedia.

The 2004 presidential election and the Summer Olympics — due from Athens, Greece, and airing on NBC and its cable siblings — "will consolidate ad recovery," Perris said.

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