Spending on the rise

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Advertising spending will hit a record $140.3 billion in the U.S. during 2004, according to a forecast unveiled at last week's AdWatch: Outlook 2004 conference, co-presented by Ad Age and TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

"2004 is shaping up to be a very good year for ad spending," said Steven Fredericks, president-CEO of TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

U.S. ad spending will grow 9.3% for the year over 2003, CMR predicts. Totals will be helped by a record $1.5 billion in political spending and $850 million in ad spending related to the Summer Olympic Games in Athens.

First half spending will grow by 9.4%, while the second half totals will rise 9.2%, according to CMR's forecast. Mr. Fredericks explained the slowdown is due to a slowdown in gross domestic product growth expected by economists during the fourth quarter, which will be partly offset by the Olympics and election spending.

All media will see growth, except for business-to-business magazines, which will be down 0.1% for the year. The Internet will grow fastest, by 15.8%, followed by spot TV, up 14.3% and radio growth of 11.5%. Among TV sectors, cable will grow 9.9% while network TV and syndication will both grow 9.8% and Spanish language TV will be up 7%. Newspapers and magazines will both grow 6.4% each and outdoor will grow by 8.4%.

Some observers were skeptical about the rosy forecast, noting the radio totals are out of sync with most other forecasts, which show radio lagging. CIBC World Markets analyst Jason Helfstein noted most forecasts put radio growth at 6%. Mr. Helfstein also noted the Olympic advertising is not usually incremental spending, but portions of existing budgets that are redirected to that purpose.

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