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The first half ended not with a bang, but with a whimper-or maybe a painful groan. In spite of six Federal Reserve interest- rate cuts, stock-market swings and the promise of federal tax rebate checks in the mail, the indices ended the first half not far from where they started the year.

Microsoft Corp. recovered much of the ground it lost in 2000 to become the best performer in the AdMarket, up 66.16% in the first half to $72.07. By contrast, Primedia went to the bottom of the AdMarket as Wall Street punished the company for its purchase of Internet venture Primedia ended the first half down 40.9% at $6.76.

Ad agencies took the brunt of the downturn. Only Grey Global Group and Omnicom Group were 1n the plus column at the half. WPP Group, in 38th place, just avoided the bottom 10, but Cordiant Communications Group, Digitas, Interpublic Group of Cos., Havas Advertising and Publicis Groupe made up the worst performers, along with American Express Co., Coca-Cola Co., Nike, Primedia and Yahoo!


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