Zenith revises global ad spend growth forecast upwards

MUMBAI: Zenith Optimedia’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts is a bellwether for the global ad industry. And the top notch media agency revised its earlier June forecasts for the rest year in an update posted today. Zenith says that global adex will grow by 4.4 per cent to reach $539 billion, much better than 4.1 per cent growth it forecast earlier.  It will expand by 4.5 per cent in 2017, and 4.6 per cent in 2018, better than the 4.3 per cent and 4.4 per cent it had earlier estimated. By 2018 global advertising expenditure will total  $589 billio,  $4 billion more than forecast in June.

The US, the Philippines and Western Europe drive faster adspend growth

This upgrade is mainly the result of stronger-than-expected growth in the US, where a strong labour market has encouraged consumers to increase their expenditure, and advertisers have fought harder for their share of the expanding market. The agency expects US network TV to return to growth this year (at one  per cent) after shrinking five  per cent last year, thanks to new spending by pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods companies and a strong upfront. Zenith stated that it expects social media to accelerate from 32  per cent growth last year to 35  per cent growth this year, as advertisers take advantage of new formats, such as in-feed video, and the transition to mobile internet consumption continues. Overall the agency forecasts that US ad spend to grow 4.4  per cent this year, compared to the previous estimate of 3.8  per cent.

Zenith has also made slight upgrades to its adspend forecasts for Asia Pacific and Western Europe. It has revised its estimate for APAC from 6.2 per cent to 6.3 per cent and for Western Europe from 3.5 per cent to 3.6 per cent. Its APAC optimism is based on  heavy political spending in the Philippines in the run-up to the May 2016 elections. Its bullishness about Western Europe is courtesy improved conditions in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Sweden have compensated for the  slowdown in the UK.

Mild weakening of UK ad market after Brexit vote

Although the vote for ‘Brexit’ in the UK’s EU referendum came as a shock to many in the market, so far advertisers have reacted calmly, with no widespread budget reductions. Zenith has forecast a 5.4  per cent growth in ad spend this year, fractionally less than its  5.6  per cent forecast just before the vote. The agency says that its view is that most of the impact that Brexit will have on the UK ad market will happen in the long term.

The UK’s new terms of trade with the EU and other countries – whatever they turn out to be – are likely to restrict flows of trade and investment in comparison with the pre-Brexit status quo, leading to slower economic growth and slower growth in advertising expenditure. In the short term, uncertainty about the consequences of the vote will make companies less likely to invest in new products, and consumers less likely to take on big spending commitments. This could lead to anything from disappointingly slow growth to outright recession. Zenith’s current forecasts assume that economic growth will slow but remain positive, in which case UK adspend will grow 3.4  per cent next year, down from its pre-vote forecast of four per cent growth.

Mobile advertising taking over from desktop even faster than expected

In June, Zenith had forecast that mobile advertising would overtake desktop in 2017.  And it says its position has not changed on this score, excepting that it has upgraded its forecasts for mobile growth for this year (from 46  per cent to 48  per cent) and next year (from 29  per cent to 33  per cent), and  it now expects mobile adspend to exceed desktop by $ 8billion in 2017, up from the $2billion it predicted in June. Zenith expects mobile to account for 60 per cent of all internet advertising by 2018, up from the earlier forecast of 58 per cent.

Desktop to shrink by more than newspapers or magazines to 2018

The agency’s view is that desktop advertising peaked in 2014 at $99 billion and shrank 0.1  per cent in 2015 to $98.9 billion as advertisers switched their budgets to mobile. It now expects desktop advertising’s decline to accelerate over the next few years with spends falling by 0.8  per cent in 2016, 2.9  per cent in 2017 and 7.4  per cent in 2018. Between 2015 and 2018 desktop adspend will have shrunk by $10.7billion, more than the other two declining media – newspapers (which will shrink by $9.6 billion) and magazines ($4.4 billion). Meanwhile mobile adspend will grow by $81.3 billion over the same period, seven times more than the combined growth of television ($7.3 billion), outdoor ($3 billion), radio ($0.9 billion) and cinema ($0.7 billion).

“The global ad market has strengthened over the past few months, thanks mainly to the resilient US consumer,” said Zenith head of forecasting Jonathan Barnard. “So far any impact from the vote for Brexit has been limited, and confined to the UK. We expect the global ad market to strengthen further in 2017 and 2018.”

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