China passes South Korea in ad spending

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HONG KONG -- China has surpassed South Korea as the biggest advertising market in Asia-Pacific outside Japan, according to ACNielsen Media International, an operating unit of ACNielsen Corp.

In 1998, China's advertising market grew 45%, the biggest increase among the Asia-Pacific ad markets, according to figures from ACNielsen's AdEx advertising expenditure measurement service. Gross spending in China was more than $5.3 billion based on published rate cards.

China ``is now twice as big as the markets in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and we expect its growth momentum to be sustained well into the new millennium," said Steven Yung, president of ACNielsen Media International in Hong Kong.

China's spectacular growth is mainly the result of increased spending in traditional markets and geographical expansion, according to Andrew Floyd, managing director of ACNielsen Media Measurement Services. "[The] proliferation of TV and print media in second- and third-tier cities, offers a much wider audience reach and range of media choices," he said.

In contrast, South Korea was hardest hit as consumer confidence nose-dived amidst business and political shake-ups that rocked the country's largest business conglomerates. The prospects of austerity measures led to ad spending plunging by 26% to $2.9 billion.

Taiwan meanwhile posted a 19% growth to $2.5 billion in TV, newspapers and magazines, while in Hong Kong, which has suffered an economic contraction, the ad industry struggled to keep pace with a 2% nominal growth to gross spending of about $2.7 billion. However, there are signs of recovery, with ad spending in the first quarter this year increasing 17% across all local media, buoyed by spending from telecom, real estate, computer and financial services advertisers.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines fared best with a 7% nominal growth to $1.18 billion; Thailand suffered a 24% drop to $855 million; Indonesia fell 20% to $411 million; and Malaysia plummeted 17% to $570 million. Singapore saw a 7% dip to $715 million, the first drop since the 1985 recession.

The developing Vietnam market managed to stay put at $72 million in TV and print advertising.

Australia posted a 5.5% growth to $2.8 billion, whereas New Zealand enjoyed an 8% increase to almost $863 million, due to a surge in radio advertising.

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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