AD GAIN OF 5.2% IN '93 MARKS DOWNTURN'S END

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The economic recovery has definitely arrived for ad sales.

The grand total for all media for 1993 reached $138.1 billion, a gain of 5.2% over '92. In contrast, there was a growth of 5.6% in nominal (inflation included) gross domestic product last year.

Advertising by national marketers reached $80 billion, a gain of 5.2%. This feat was even more impressive because it was against '92 budgets that in many cases reflected Olympics spending.

The small losses for TV networks and the modest gains in spot TV in '93 are partly explained by comparisons with somewhat elevated bud- gets of '92.

The improvement in local marketers' ad activity was dramatic. Newspapers, the most important medium for local marketers, have been in a slump since 1987, but in '93, local newspaper ad budgets grew faster than inflation for the first time in five years. Expect the good news to continue.

Advertising as a percent of GDP is a good barometer; when advertising grows faster than GDP, the industry is getting stronger. The sharp fall in this barometer has ended, and it's expected to start rising again this year.

The barometer had been rising for an extended period until it peaked in 1987. It then began to fall gradually until '91, when the Persian Gulf War and the recession disrupted ad activity.

The climate in the ad industry should be much better this year than it has been for the past six. GDP is expected to rise about 6% in '94 and ad growth should be slightly better than 6%.

Broadcast ad activity during the first quarter has been exceptionally strong, due to the economic momentum, political activity and the Winter Olympics. This early bloom may dwindle a bit, but there's little doubt broadcast media will do much better this year than last.

Magazine ad gains weren't quite as strong, but better than expected. The picture could brighten further as the year unfolds.

Newspapers' quarterly comparisons should be pretty good for most of 1994.

The fourth quarter was the medium's best growth quarter in '93 and the only one that won't be easily surpassed.

Mr. Coen is senior VP-director of forecasting at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

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