WPP echoes Aegis', Zenith Optimedia's ad growth forecasts

LONDON: WPP Group, the world's third largest advertising company echoed the sentiments expressed by Aegis Group, Zenith Optimedia and outdoor major JC Decaux.

The company's chief executive Martin Sorell was bullish about an ad industry rebound in the second half of this year even as several UK-based print publications like Daily Mail and Evening Standardadmitted that the advertising market remained "challenging".

In mid September, new figures released by media buying giant Zenith Optimedia indicated a slight increase on previous forecasts. The Zenith Optimedia reports indicate that global advertising expenditure is now expected to rise by a total of 3.2 per cent in 2003. However, it added that the television advertising market is showing no sign of recovery and is unlikely to do so until next year.

Poster giant JC Decaux, the world's third largest outdoor advertiser, has warned that market conditions in Europe will continue to be "challenging", although the UK and US markets are beginning to show signs of growth after a three-year slump.

Aegis, the holding company for Europe's largest media agency Carat, claimed earlier this month that the advertising industry will finally recover from its prolonged slump next year. Aegis said the US market had already begun to recover although it warned there was still "little or no growth" in Europe.

Aegis chief executive Doug Flynn claimed that while signs from the US TV market were encouraging, other forms of US media are showing little improvement. However, he added: "The European market has been more disappointing with gains in some markets offset by weakness in others. Whilst the Japanese market remains flat, adspend in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region returned to solid growth after the SARS affected second quarter."

But, print media seems to going through some turmoil. The UK's Daily Mail and General Trust's Associated Newspapers arm saw display advertising revenues down 3.5 per cent on last year in the 11 months to August, but the decline slowed in July and August.

The group said that retail advertising and travel industry ad volumes have recovered whereas most other major categories, particularly financial, have remained weak.

However, advertising head honchos are still keeping faith. WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell was quoted as saying that the second half of 2003 would be better than the first while adding that the growth was flat in the first.

Sorrell was confident that the forthcoming 2004 Athens Olympics would stimulate the industry recovery.

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