The growth rate for U.S. advertising spending held at 6.8%, the same rate projected from preliminary numbers last December, said Bob Coen, senior VP-forecasting at McCann. But while most media grew faster then the initial tally, the broadcast network totals dragged the overall total down.
Broadcast TV, which makes up 19.4% of U.S. spending, was up only 2.1%, with network TV showing real weakness, according to Mr Coen's totals. The network TV growth rate was depressed in 1999 against a strong 1998, which benefited from Winter Olympic Games broadcasts and political advertising around the mid-term elections, he explained.
Mr. Coen had expected a larger growth rate for TV and was more cautious about cable growth. But cable outperformed his initial forecast, thanks both to the advent of new networks and to cable's winning a larger share of viewers and ad dollars from the broadcast networks.
"It's hard to believe they can keep up those double-digit rates year after year, but they keep growing," Mr. Coen said.
Final numbers for radio were also better than expected, particularly national spot advertising, which rose 16%, ahead of Mr. Coen's preliminary rate of 13%.
Even the preliminary number was ahead of expectations, said Mr. Coen, who had expected double-digit growth would be hard to come by since inflation remains low. But radio expansion continued at a fast clip, with group owners taking over stations and engaging in more aggressive sales and marketing efforts, he explained.
Print media also fared much better than expected, with newspaper revenue up 17.7%, as opposed to his initial forecast of 10%, Mr. Coen said. Much of the improved numbers -- mainly on national publications -- came from a late-year surge in Internet-company advertising, particularly among e-commerce sites trying to drive holiday traffic, he said.
Internet advertising itself beat initial estimates, with 84.7% growth as opposed to a preliminary 79%.
The forecast for 2000 seems ready to meet expectations set in December, Mr. Coen said. He projected U.S. ad spending will rise 8.3% to $233 billion thanks to the continued growth of the economy, the Olympic Games and the election.
FIRST QUARTER LOOKS BRIGHT
Initial figures for first-quarter spending seem to be up from 1999 and the worldwide spending picture looks bright, Mr. Coen added. While there is some anxiety over how much longer the good economic times can continue, there's still room for improvement overseas, where Asian economies are just emerging from their fiscal crises, he said.
"We're going to have high increases year over year," Mr. Coen said. That is in spite of the gyrations of the stock market and of soft first-quarter U.S. retail sales. The retail sector may have slowed down from holiday levels in the spring, but "it's still way the heck up over a year ago," he said.