B-to-b ad spending down 14% in '02

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New York--B-to-b advertising spending declined 14% to $7.23 billion in 2002, according to figures released by American Business Media.

Ad spending rose 3% in December from a year earlier, while ad pages fell 2%.

Ad pages declined 15% for the year.

Eight of the 12 categories showed improvement in ad spending in December. The travel sector led the way, with a 37% jump in ad dollars, followed by drugs and toiletries, up 30%%. Computers, in a turnaround from the last few years, rose 20% while automotive was up 18%.

Yet several ad categories crucial to b-to-b growth were still down in December, including telecommunications, down 23%; manufacturing and electrical equipment, materials and components, down 13%; finance, business and advertising, down 12%, and retail, down 5%.

Gordon Hughes, president-CEO of ABM, said b-to-b ad spending in 2003 depends on whether the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. “If the United States avoids war, we are predicting a 3% growth in ad revenues in the first quarter of 2003, and the December numbers support that projection,” he said “If war occurs, we project a delay in increased b-to-b activity until the second half of 2003.”

--Matthew Schwartz

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