Credit Calamity Leads Zenith to Lower Ad Forecast, But Web to Gain

Global media services firm ZenithOptimedia has downgraded its global ad forecast as a result of the “financial shock” now infecting global economies. However, it believes the Internet will steal greater share of the world’s total ad spend than previously anticipated as a result of the chaos.

In its global ad spend forecast, issued today, ZenithOptimedia anticipates global ad spending growth of 4.3 percent this year, a big downward revision of from the 6.6 percent growth it predicted in June. It also slashed its 2009 estimates, from 6 percent growth to 4 percent.

But the forecast also states Internet advertising will increase its share of the world ad market from 8.6 percent last year to 13.8 percent in 2010. That’s up slightly from the 13.6 percent Zenith predicted the Web would command back in June.

In actual numbers, global Internet ad spend will hit $51.1 billion this year, 61.7 billion in 2009, and $75.8 billion in 2010, according to the report. That’s down from ZenithOptimedia’s June prediction of $52.2 billion this year, $64.1 billion in 2009, and $78.2 billion in 2010.

“At a time when ad budgets are under pressure, the Internet has the advantage over traditional media that it provides better levels of measurability,” the report’s authors wrote.

The Internet will steal this additional share from newspapers, magazines, television and radio, Zenith said. However, newspapers will take the worst of it, suffering spending declines in 2008 and 2009. Zenith claims this would be the first measured decline in any medium since 2002.

Publicis-owned ZenithOptimedia’s latest forecast most severely punishes Western nations — in particular Europe and the U.S. — where the credit crisis has been worst. It said North American ad spending will grow 1.8 percent this year and 0.9 percent next year, compared to an earlier forecast of 3.5 percent and 2.7 percent. Luxury goods, travel and entertainment categories are expected to be hardest hit as consumers limit spending.

ZenithOptimedia does not break out Internet ad spend by region.

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