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ZenithOptimedia revises global ad spend to 4.3% in 2012

MUMBAI: Media agency ZenithOptimedia predicts global ad expenditure will grow 4.3 per cent in 2012, reaching $502 billion by the end of the year.

ZenithOptimedia is a slight downgrade of the 4.8 per cent growth forecast in March. But the forecasts for 2013 and 2014 are unchanged, at 5.3 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively.

The ad market slowed in April and May as advertisers became more cautious about the state of the global economy. The Greek elections have revived fears of a Eurozone break-up, causing investors to withdraw from risky assets. Partly as a result, economic growth has slowed across the developed world, and recessions have deepened in the southern Eurozone. Several developing markets have slowed as exports to the developed world have tailed off, although their growth generally remains much firmer than in developed markets.

The first of the year’s big sporting events – the Euro 2012 Football Championship – has begun in Poland and Ukraine, to be followed by the Olympics in the UK in late July and August. These events, together with the US elections, provide a regular boost to global ad spend every four years, known as the ‘quadrennial effect’. This year we expect these events to add $6.3 billion to the global ad market, almost all of it concentrated in the five months from early June to early November. The agency, therefore, expects ad spend growth to pick up from June onwards.

The Eurozone appears to have avoided a recession under the technical definition (two consecutive quarters of GDP decline) by maintaining flat output in 2012, but its economy is clearly in serious trouble, with deep recessions and painful unemployment in markets like Italy, Spain, Portugal, and of course Greece.

These are the four markets where ad spend is shrinking rapidly, as local advertisers struggle to maintain their cash reserves, and international advertisers reconsider the long-term potential of their investments. Elsewhere in the Eurozone adspend is flat, except in Austria, Finland and Germany, where it is growing at about the rate of inflation. Overall, it forecasts ad expenditure to decline by 1.1 per cent in the Eurozone in 2012.

The forecasts assume that the Eurozone avoids economic disaster (such as a break-up of the euro) this year, followed by slow but steady economic improvement. On this basis, ZenithOptimedia predicts Eurozone adspend will grow 2.3 per cent in 2013 and 3 per cent in 2014.

"The Eurozone is weighing down our predictions for Europe as a whole.

It has reduced our 2012 forecast for Western Europe from 1.5 per cent growth to just 0.4 per cent, and the forecast for Central and Eastern Europe from 6.5 per cent growth to 6.2 per cent," said ZenithOptimedia.

Zenithoptimedia has also downgraded Asia Pacific slightly from 7.4 per cent growth this year to 6.7 per cent, and Latin America from 9.2 to 7.8 per cent.

"The advertising recovery remains robust in North America, however, which we have held steady at 3.6 per cent, also holding the Middle East and North Africa at one per cent while the political and social unrest continues," ZenithOptimedia.

In the longer term, it expects gradual but sustained improvement in ad expenditure in North America, Western Europe and the Middle East and North Africa in 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, Asia Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America should all achieve 7 per cent to 10 per cent annual growth over these two years.

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