Ad Spending Guru Revises Forecast, Upward

Industry forecaster Robert Coen, a senior vice president at McCann-Erickson USA, is again raising his estimate of ad spending for 1998 because of continued signs of economic growth that have been more robust than anticipated.

“We’re in a good, strong upward movement,” Coen was quoted by The New York Times as saying at a presentation of his predictions in Manhattan. “The economic climate looks even more favorable.”

“Barring any unforeseen developments,” he added, “things look better for 1998 than they did in December,” when he issued his previous forecast.

Ad spending is closely watched because it is deemed a reliable indicator of the health of the economy. And, as overall ad spending grows, it seems likely that more and more will be spent on interactive.

Coen predicted that marketers would spend a record $200.3 billion in the United States in 1998, up 6.8% from a revised figure of $187.5 billion for 1997. The 1997 figure marks a gain of 7% from the $175.2 billion that was spent in 1996, according to the Times.

If the figure of $200.3 billion is indeed reached, it will be the first time that domestic ad spending tops the $200 billion level. Overseas ad spending first passed that figure in 1995.

Coen, who has been tracking advertising and media trends since 1948, issues his predictions twice a year, in June and December, revising them based on updated data.

In raising his forecast for 1998, Coen cited the first-quarter results in several large national ad categories such as automobiles, up 17% from the corresponding period of 1997; toiletries and cosmetics, up 14%; food, up 11%; movies, up 9%, and beverages and snacks, up 8%.

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