Online Ad Spend Predicted to Continue Growth through Downturn

Written by Jack Marshall

Ad spend forecasts released today by ZenithOptimedia and GroupM suggest internet spend will prop up a struggling global ad market in 2009.

WPP-owned Zenith predicts global ad spend across all mediums will decline by 0.2 percent next year, with spend in North America and Western Europe declining 5.7 percent and 1 percent respectively. Online, however, is expected to experience 18 percent growth, aided by growing spend in regions such as Latin America, Asia Pacific and Central & Eastern Europe.

Publicis-owned GroupM also forecasts a 0.2 percent drop in overall spend for ’09, but remains slightly more conservative in its outlook for online, predicting just 10 percent growth worldwide. Predictions for the U.S. market mirror those released for the U.K. last week – four percent online growth in ’09 compared to 22 percent in ’08.

Quoted in a press release last week, Adam Smith, GroupM’s Futures director, summed up the outlook nicely last week when he said, “Past recessions have lasted one or two years. This one feels like a two, and we are evidently some way from the bottom. Any sign of recovery in 2009 would be a nice surprise. But it is a surprise we should prepare for. We were fast into this recession and we could be fast out.”

In other words, we can predict all we like, but nobody knows quite how hard this recession is likely to hit, or when it will hit hardest.

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