Global advertising spending will suffer the biggest fall in almost 30 years in 2009, according to forecasts from ZenithOptimedia, a big global media buying group owned by the big French ad group, Publicis.

In a statement on its website, Zenith forecast a 6.9% drop in spending in 2009 to $US453.2 billion. That is sharply up from the 0.2% fall forecast last December, and smaller forecast falls from Group M (minus 4.4%) and the Carat group (minus 5.8%).

Zenith said the fall projected for this year will be the deepest since it started to track the data in 1980.

Ad spending in newspapers is projected to fall 12%, radio and magazines are face double-digit declines, while TV faces a 5.5% drop, which is better, relative to the other established media. That’s because of sharply lower ad rates (which is happening in Australia) and the need for marketers to get more bang for their contracting ad budgets. TV offers that, especially free to air, with its ability to gather large audiences, cheaply. Cable TV is increasingly in the same position in the US, UK and Italy.

Ad spending in the US will fall by a projected 8.7%, higher than the 6.2% drop forecast in the same report last December.

Ad spending estimates from the group have now been cut three times in six months. Zenith said while it saw falls in the US and western Europe in December, it didn’t account for plunges now happening in Brazil and Russia. (Group M had Brazilian spending still rising, although more slowly. It has Russian spending plunging sharply).

“Since we released our last forecasts in December the global ad market has taken a substantial turn for the worse. Trade has fallen off rapidly, dragging many developing markets into the downturn. Our last forecasts predicted declining ad expenditure in North America and Western Europe in 2009,” Zenith said in its latest report.

We now predict a steeper decline in these regions, with all regions joining in the general decline. We forecast global ad expenditure to shrink by 6.9% over the course of 2009.

We are currently in the middle of a period of steep deterioration in ad expenditure. The downturn began in Q3 2008, accelerated in Q4, and Q1 2009 was at least as tough as the preceding quarter. As we enter Q2, there is limited long-term visibility in the market as most advertisers wait until the last moment to confirm their spending commitments.

Many are treating advertising as a discretionary expense, and one they find convenient to cut. Ad expenditure correlates strongly with corporate profits, and the ad market is unlikely to start its recovery until profits start to pick up again.

Online spending may rise 8.6% to $US54.3 billion: that’s a 12.1% share of all spending. In America, search advertising will rise an estimated 9%, while display ads will fall 1.8%. US newspapers reported a fall in online ads in the 4th quarter of 2008 for the first time since they started breaking out the internet back in 2003.

Newspaper spending will shrink to $US107 billion globally and magazines spending will drop 11% to $US49 billion. Spending will fall in Russia and Brazil, compared with December predictions of gains of 5% and 30% respectively.

All the major markets in Western Europe are suffering substantial decline in ad expenditure: in 2009 we forecast 7.3% decline in France, 5.5% in Germany, 5.0% in Italy, 10.1% in Spain and 8.7% in the UK. Overall we expect ad expenditure to drop 6.7%. However, we expect all the major markets to grow in 2010 with the exception of Italy, which we expect to shrink another 0.8%.”

In Asia, Singapore will see a near 17% fall (the Government yesterday upped its growth estimated this year to a fall of up to 9%, instead of a drop of 6% in the January forecast). South Korea will see a 20% fall, according to Zenith said. And spending will slow in China and India, although the gains will still be there. Spending may rise 5.4% in China and 6.4% in India, down from previous estimates of 9% and 13%:

We expect Asia Pacific to drop by 3.4% in 2009. Asia Pacific contains several large markets that are still growing, if rather less rapidly in recent years. We forecast 5.4% growth in ad expenditure in China (down from 18.8% last year), 6.4% growth in India (down from 18.9%) and 7.9% growth from Indonesia (again down from 18.9%). Several smaller markets are also still growing, but these are counterbalanced by sharp falls in some markets (-11.0% in Taiwan, -16.5% in Singapore and -20.0% in South Korea) and a 5.0% fall in Japan, which still contributes 38% of the region’s ad expenditure.

There was no estimate for Australia. GroupM forecast a 1.7% fall in Australia this year (down 5.1% after inflation and costs).

Zenith said global ad spending may recover in 2010 with a 1.5% rise and a stronger 4.5% gain in 2011. But that won’t happen in the US where the slow recovery will still; see spending fall in 2010, this time by a smaller 1.7%. It could rise 1.1% in 2011.

In its revised 2009 forecast on April 1, GroupM said: “Global advertising spending in measured media is expected to drop 4.4 percent to $425 billion in 2009 compared to 2008 when spending was up 3 percent. In the US spending in 2009 is expected to fall by almost the same amount — 4.3% — in 2009 but tumble 6.8% in 2010.

“As in previous recessions, consumers have started to spend less, save more, and spend more time at home. Consumers are putting off the purchase of big ticket items and shifting their consumption habits from premium products to budget brands,” Zenith said.

It’s the same the world over. Despite stimulus packages, consumers are cutting back and saving more.

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