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Group M sees worsening ad market in 2010 By Tim Bradshaw in London


The advertising downturn will worsen in the US next year, according to the latest forecasts from Group M, defying more optimistic forecasts that the media sector could recover next year.

Group M, the world’s largest media agency, on Tuesday cut its forecast for global advertising spending to $425bn this year. This would mark a 4.4 per cent decline from the previous year, against its original forecast of a 0.2 per cent decline. The market grew 3 per cent last year.

The US, the world’s largest advertising market worth $172bn last year, faces a 4.3 per cent fall this year and a further 6.8 per cent drop in 2010, the company said.

Group M, which is owned by Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP, said the US would suffer as budgets were devised during a recession and the US government’s stimulus package would have little effect on consumer spending amid high unemployment and commodity inflation.

“My own expectation is that we’ll be lucky if 2010 is a sideways year in advertising [globally],” said Adam Smith, futures director at Group M.

“My main reason for this is employment related,” he added. “Advertising is fundamentally about consumers and consumers are essentially about jobs. The jobs cycle lags the economic cycle by at least a year. Even if economic output levels out this year, it will still be a stretch for advertising to stage much of a recovery by 2010.”

Justin Diddams, media analyst at RBS, said: “Group M is one of the first major agencies and/or media owners to acknowledge the advertising outlook isn’t looking any better in 2010.”

Group M’s forecasts follow last week’s prediction by Carat, owned by Aegis, that global ad spend would fall 5.8 per cent this year, but recover to grow 0.7 per cent in 2010.

Carat predicted that the US would fall 9.8 per cent this year and a further 2.7 per cent in 2010.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, said at the agency’s results in March that he expected an economic recovery in 2010, predicting WPP’s like-for-like revenues would fall 2 per cent this year.

Credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have both put WPP on negative watch since its results, citing concerns that WPP could suffer a greater revenue decline than it has budgeted for. S&P has also revised its outlook for Publicis Groupe to negative, citing its exposure to GM, the troubled car manufacturer.

Mr Smith that the agency would be releasing its official global predictions for 2010 after an internal poll in June.

Adjusting for inflation, Group M’s global forecast equates to a 7 per cent real-terms fall, compared with a 1.6 per cent real decline last year.

Western Europe will fall 6.7 per cent this year to $100bn, Group M forecasts, but so-called “emerging” European countries would be hit worse, falling 15.8 per cent.

Spain, Russia and the UK face the largest declines in individual countries, with Russia falling 22.8 per cent this year. Brazil is expected to be the fastest growing market, up 10.5 per cent, followed by India, up 6 per cent. But the Chinese advertising market, the world’s third largest, faces a significant slowdown to just 3.2 per cent growth, or a 1.1 per cent decline in real terms.




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