Ad spend forecast inches up for 2002

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advertising spending in 2002 will rise 2.5% over 2001 to $109.1 billion in U.S. media, according to a forecast by Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR released at AdWatch.

As expected, the first half of the year will be down slightly, by 0.4%, but a second-half surge led by political advertising will help full-year numbers show a slight increase, said David Peeler, CMR's president-CEO.

CMR earlier reported consumer advertising rose 0.4% in the first quarter vs. a year ago, boosted by the Olympics and an early Easter, in the first increase since 2000. CMR estimates the second quarter, without those anomalies, fell 1.1%.

It forecast that second-half spending will improve each quarter, showing a 5.1% increase in the third quarter and a 7.1% increase in the fourth, for a rise 6.2% for the second half.

The 2002 forecast is better than what CMR initially forecast last January. That forecast called for a 1.5% full-year increase. The first half was not as bad as initially forecast, while second-half growth now appears to be less positive than initial estimates, Mr. Peeler said.

Sales figures from the network upfront market suggest advertisers have begun spending again, and the mid-term elections will spur additional spending in the second half, Mr. Peeler said. He noted new campaign-finance rules that go into effect in November should force candidates to spend their "soft-dollar" contributions before that deadline. As of May, candidates in gubernatorial and other political races have spent $100 million already, a good sign, Mr. Peeler said.

good indicators

While the accuracy of upfront sales numbers is always debated, Mr. Peeler noted they are often a good indicator for trends in spending on network TV and other media. Commitments in this year's TV upfronts-ad deals made ahead of the TV season-are up about 16% vs. last year, when TV properties sold a smaller percentage of their inventory at lower prices.

"If history is any kind of indicator ... this year we're off to a very good start," Mr. Peeler said.

Some new areas will drive growth, most notably Spanish-language media, said Mr. Peeler. Spending on Spanish-language TV will grow 10.4%, CMR forecast.

Other media will also see growth in 2002: spot TV (up 8.9%), radio (6.7%), local newspapers (5.7%) the Internet (5.3%) and network TV (4.5%).

Cable TV will be relatively flat, down 0.3%.

Other media will still show a down year: outdoor (-1%), national newspapers (-1.7%), magazines (-2.8%), syndicated TV (-3.2%) and business to business publications (-11.4%).

There are a few possible negatives in the forecast, most notably slow new-brand activity, a key driver of ad-spending growth. Mr. Peeler tallied only 72 new brand introductions in the first quarter, compared to 89 a year earlier.

"That new-brand driving engine is sputtering down," he said.

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