'AA'/4A's poll split on recovery timing

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Media executives are keeping close tabs on consumer confidence and ad spending data as they scan for signs of a turnaround, but they're still pretty pessimistic, according to a poll by Advertising Age and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Among 58 attendees at the 4A's media conference who participated in the poll, 36.2% said the economy will improve in the fourth quarter and 13.8% said the turnaround won't come until 2003. Meanwhile, 34.5% said ad spending won't improve until the fourth quarter; 36.2% said 2003.

TV and radio are expected to recover sooner than print, with most respondents indicating network, spot and cable TV and radio will show better year-over-year comparisons starting in the third quarter, while most felt newspapers and magazines will have to wait until the fourth quarter or next year.

Respondents-from agencies, advertisers, media and industry vendors-were divided about the effect of improved year-over-year comparisons: 53.4% said they will make advertisers more inclined to spend, while 44.8% said advertisers will see the numbers as irrelevant to this year's plans. But advertisers' hesitation may carry a price: 55.2% of respondents said late media buys come with higher prices.

survey says

Asked for a one-word description of 2002's ad prospects, many survey respondents went with "hopeful," "optimistic" and similar terms. "Treading water" and "cautious," also received multiple votes. Some answers were more colorful. An agency executive said prospects will come "one client at a time," and another urged: "Hang in there." One respondent's forecast: "Gruesome."

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