But Global Outlook Remains Weak

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The U.S. ad industry is showing signs of recovery in 2003, but European ad spending will remain weak for a third year in a row, according to a forecast by media agency Zenith Optimedia.

Global ad spending will grow 2.9% in 2003, thanks to the U.S., which will grow 2.7%, a sharp upward revision from Zenith's previous 2003 forecast. Zenith in April had upgraded its U.S. outlook from 1.9% growth to 2.2%. Its outlook for the rest of the world remains unchanged form its previous forecast in December 2002.

Better than expected
"It's more growth than we could

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expect under the circumstances," said Adam Smith, head of knowledge management at Zenith. He noted increases are expected across all U.S. media. Large advertisers are spending more despite certain economic indicators, such as personal income and unemployment, pointing to a slow recovery, according to Zenith's analysis.

While the U.S. will surge without the support of a strong job market or other positive economic indicators, the European ad market will rise only 1.7% -- and will actually shrink 0.5%, after factoring for inflation -- because of economic woes. The key European markets, the U.K. France, Italy, Germany and Spain, won't return to real growth until 2004, according to Zenith's analysis.

Asian market to grow
Beyond the U.S. and Europe, Asian markets will grow 4.1% despite the effects of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and flat growth in the key Japanese market. While SARS affected Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan advertising in the first quarter, Zenith maintained its forecasts for Singapore and Taiwan, while Hong Kong was downgraded to show a drop of 10.8% in spending during 2003, instead of the previous forecast of 4.1% growth.

Zenith Optimedia is 75% owned by Publicis Groupe and 25% by Cordiant Communications Group.

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