Numbers game

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Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR today releases a revised, or midyear, forecast for the advertising industry predicting full-year 2001 U.S. ad spending will decline by 2% to $102.4 billion from $104.5 billion in 2000.

In January, CMR had forecast an increase of 3.8% to $106.6 billion in 2001 from a preliminary $102.7 billion in 2000.

"We look at it in the October to November time period for the upcoming year," said David Peeler, CEO of CMR. "And after we get through the June numbers we look at a revised forecast based on what we've seen in the first half."

A newcomer in the economic forecasting business, CMR monitors and measures advertising on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, business-to-business, the Internet and outdoor. "We are looking at this with a macro view. There are some good categories in advertising that are up year after year. [Direct-to-c0nsumer drug] spending is up pretty strong. Automotive is down. Telecommunications are hitting rough spots," Mr. Peeler said. "But there are bright spots in categories and in segments, even in some media. Not all media is down." CMR does not currently break out its forecast for each medium, but plans to do so in the future.

Mr. Peeler hopes to establish the CMR forecast as an industry standard up there with the likes of Bob Coen's annual forecasts at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, and the predictions of Zenith Media, owned by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group. "We have always provided the information for people who do the forecasting," Mr. Peeler said. "So now we are going to take a look at it, too."

Those in the forecast business for a while trimmed their own earlier forecasts for total U.S. ad spending. (See TurnSignals, P. 40.) The Zenith forecast mirrored CMR's, down 2.0%. Mr. Coen's, on the other hand, was up by 2.5%. UBS Warburg's was up by 2%. "Everybody's got a different point of view," Mr. Peeler said. "I just don't know how they get there from where we are today."

CMR gets its information from logging advertising that has already appeared and attributing average pricing.

"We get the most up-to-date information because we've got the last look at it," Mr. Peeler said.

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